140 to 280: Not the Twitter Fix We Needed

The Forrest Four-Cast: September 27, 2017

On Tuesday, September 26, Twitter announced that it is experimenting with an expansion of the length of tweets. Wrote Product Manager Aliza Rosen on the company’s in-house blog, “Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet — we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain. . . We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).”

I am not a traditionalist, so it doesn’t bother me that the company is moving away from the 140 character limit it adopted more than 10 years ago and that had become synonymous with its brand. Embrace positive change and transformation, always.

What does bother me, however, is that this change does nothing to address the elephant in the room with regards to this social media platform: hate speech. Until there is a more effective, more efficient and more dynamic solution to this problem, Twitter will never reach its full potential.

Creating a better solution to manage hate speech on Twitter (and other similar apps) is an incredibly incredibly difficult challenge and one that is fraught with far-reaching First Amendment implications. But Silicon Valley is all about finding incredibly innovative solutions to overcome incredibly incredibly difficult challenges. If Twitter really wants to make itself easier for global expression, then it will allocate even more resources to solving the riddle that has plagued their service for far too long.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

Help SXSW help the Red Cross with Hurricane Harvey relief by donating here.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.