No, Twitter isn't removing its 140-character limit

A mysterious new feature under development by the social network has led to outcry over whether it plans to drop the trademark 140-character limit on tweets. 

Richard Drew/AP
The Twitter bird logo posted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

As of right now, the rumors that Twitter is dropping its trademark 140-character limit are just that – rumors.

Word of the potential change was first reported on Tuesday by re/code, which cited several people familiar with the company’s plans. They say the network is working to allow “tweets that are longer than the company’s 140-character limit.”

This does not mean, as some are predicting, that the cap on tweets is going to be removed.

Instead, the change will allow users to “publish long-form content to the service,” wrote re/code. “It’s unclear what the product will look like.”

Currently, users can already bypass the limit in other ways, such as adding pictures or embedding other tweets.

Some say this is just a natural step toward publishing “distributed content,” something Facebook already does by allowing news organizations to host articles directly on its website.

“Your Twitter feed will continue to look much the same as it does today,” suggested Slate’s Will Oremus. “The difference will be that, for certain tweets, you’ll have the option to click or tap a button (‘Expand,’ perhaps) to view the full article or blog post without leaving your Twitter feed.”

Twitter has not publicly commented on the matter.

The 140-character limit, which first stemmed from the 160-character limit imposed on SMS text messages, has long divided users into two camps: “too short,” or “just right.”

“It’s like Twitter has chosen 140 characters as the perfect length in which you can wind someone up and be misunderstood without context,” wrote one user.

“Without the 140 character limit, Twitter becomes a 2nd Facebook. And guess what I *don't* need?” wrote another. 

Last month, Twitter lifted the limit from its direct messages, saying it wanted to let users “express themselves” more adequately. And as the company works out how to expand its user base, the subject has also come under heavier internal scrutiny, according to re/code.

“For better or worse, pressure from stockholders who made the mistake of valuing the company as 'the next Facebook' is finally forcing it to make some bolder changes,” wrote Mr. Oremus. “Decry them if you will, but don’t make them out to be more drastic than they are.”

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