What Twitter really wants

2016 started with a big boom that shocked the Twitter community: Twitter announced to possibly increase the char limit to 10.000 chars. People were going crazy as if someone would destroy their 10 year old habits, their freedom, their… lives. They imagined how Twitter could look like and posted 10K chars as articles in their news magazines and blogs. People imagined a timeline full of those unreadably lengthy conglomerates of futility. They imagined how one could ignore more than 140 chars as they used to do while scrolling the timeline. Obviously they also were scared of the fact to read more than one could read in a wink. How would shitstorms even work if you cannot reduce someone to a single failed sentence?

Well, I don’t think we have to worry. Twitter will not screw up your timeline. At least not more as they used to do. I think the real reasons for that move and possible implementations that wouldn’t really hurt are pretty obvious.

Jack Dorsey mentioned the “text as image” problem. Well, this is a relatively new habit which has a lot of implications on accessibility and crawlability. But: This problem also exists on Facebook where users are allowed to post up to 63206 chars but in fact the average Facebook post (65) seems to be even shorter than the average Twitter status (68). And they prefer those bold text images because images always attract more attention than simple text status updates. So Twitter will not prevent that even with a gazillion possible chars. The reason why Twitter doesn’t like the images: Twitter needs the text to be parseable. Not for a better world and for archive reasons. They need the text to tailor their ads.

Twitter was always used for short status updates consisting of more or less meaningful content but also as teaser for interesting content elsewhere like blog posts, articles and whatnot. With more and more content filled in silos (Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, Apple News) Twitter sees its hopes dashed. So what could be more obvious to motivate the people to publish directly at Twitter? This would be the next contender of the open and free web. But one of the first that doesn’t scare me.

Oh wait. Isn’t this a publishing platform I am currently writing on? Oh, and isn’t that a platform a former Twitter employee founded? Isn’t their relationship “difficult”? Well, stating the obvious: Either something similar like Medium gets integrated in Twitter or they surprisingly work together again.

Anyhow, the impact on your timeline will be minimal. There will be a “read more [on Twedium]” link at the end of the 140 char limit and that is it. Perhaps ennhanced with the most important quote attached as image but even Twitter wouldn’t dare this. Would they?

So keep calm and and keep tweeting. Nothing to see here. Big publicity stunt aside.

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