TECH

Twitter's Decision To Relax Its Character Limit Again Has Already Backfired

It just can't win.

31/03/2017 10:59 BST | Updated 01/04/2017 10:44 BST

The debate about whether Twitter should drop its 140 character limit has raged since the dawn of Twitter itself. 

Proponents argue it would free up conversations, removing the need for long threads that fragment debate.

But critics say that brevity is the network’s USP and the limit is what makes Twitter Twitter.

The company’s execs, meanwhile, are sitting on the fence. Rather than dropping the limit altogether, they have decided to relax it. 

Last September, photos, videos and other media stopped counting towards the 140 limit, which was originally enforced to let people send tweets via text.

Now, the site has gone one step further by removing people’s usernames from the limit, which means, as Gizmodo first noted, you can @ as many people as you like...

How frustrating this will be is a point of contention, but many users have already noted that, mercifully, you can mute conversations.

That should go some way to stopping trolls from using the tool to clog up people’s notifications.

Regardless of whether you think the move is a good thing, it still won’t satisfy those users who think Twitter should drop the character limit altogether.

Last January, Recode reported that the company was considering expanding the limit all the way up to 10,000 characters. But the report sent Twitter’s shares into a tailspin and the plans were dropped.

Incidentally, Twitter’s developers did come up with a more Twitter-esque solution to the character limit back in 2010.

Annotations was designed to let tweeters embed structured data into a post, some of which might have included long form content.

While the tool was even demoed to third-party developers, it was never released because execs couldn’t make a good business case for it.

Seven years later, some may now be wondering whether it might have been worth the gamble.