Twitter 10k Debate Misses the Boat

Twitter has been under fire on a number of fronts of late. Wall Street is unhappy because user growth has been disappointing. Non-users find the platform confusing or too much work. Some (many?) users are unhappy because Twitter seems to be unable or unwilling to tackle abuse (we wrote last week that Twitter may be getting more serious about it).

Yesterday a whole new ruckus broke out when Re/Code broke the story that Twitter is considering raising the maximum tweet size from 140 characters to 10,000. On the face of it, that’s a huge change, and hardcore users appear to be very wary of the potential transformation.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to the early criticism (on Twitter, of course) confirming that they are indeed going to test longer tweets.


If the change is implemented the way we think it will be, we think it will provide a better user experience, even for the users who are dreading it. If the new long tweets are permitted along the lines of the picture below, this will be no big deal. That tweet is from a very good analysis by Dave Winer, and depicts a short tweet with a link to the rest of the longer text housed inside the Twitter platform, not externally. In this case, (a) the look and user interface doesn’t change much at all, and (b) if you do want to read more, you’ll be reading the post inside Twitter, and not clicking a link that could be malware or anything else.


We are in favor of this change but really hope that Twitter’s announcement last week that it will focus on abuse and abusive users is the real deal.


Sure, free speech is important, but the folks at Twitter can do a better job of proactively deleting tweets that are clearly abusive, and educating or punishing abusers accordingly. Doing so might actually help Twitter’s user growth problem. Millions of Twitter “users” don’t actually have an account or don’t log into it if they do; they browse Twitter logged out when looking for breaking news and opinion or whatever else they’re interested in.




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