Edward Snowden may soon have more space to write: Twitter is considering allowing its posts to stretch beyond 140 characters, according to a report citing unnamed sources on tech news website Re/code.
Twitter has struggled with flattening growth and is still in the midst of a search for a new CEO, with co-founder Jack Dorsey running the company in the interim.
Dorsey has been voluble about his perception of a need for change at Twitter and on the company’s most recent earnings call was frank about his disappointment with the status quo.
Other reports have speculated that Twitter will allow features making it easier to “tweetstorm,” or send multiple numbered tweets as a timeline-filling mini-essay in the manner of popular Twitter users like tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen and New Republic editor Jeet Heer.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
Heer said on Twitter that he didn’t like the idea of longer tweets.
“Product initiatives we’ve mentioned in previous earnings calls, like instant timelines and logged-out experiences, have not yet had meaningful impact on growing our audience or participation,” Dorsey told investors on the company’s most recent earnings call. “This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it.”
Twitter most recently reported having 316m monthly active users – about one-fifth of Facebook’s user count – and it is looking for ways to increase that number, though it has had a great deal of success with advertising and monetization of its existing user base.
Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research said the company was overperforming by any reasonable metric except its own. “Show me another business growing at 70% year over year,” he said. “The problem is one of expectations. They’re one of the top sellers of digital advertising on the planet.”
But it would be wrong to paint Twitter as the only social media company planning major changes to its user experience: Facebook is rumored to be trying out a “dislike” button (actually, the safest locution for it is probably “buttons other than ‘like’,” given that Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t clear on what exactly his product team was testing when he broke the news earlier in September), and Instagram will soon have video ads that are 30 seconds long.
Dorsey is indeed the impetus for the change (which may not happen), an unnamed Twitter employee told Re/code: “Having Jack come in and say it’s OK makes all the difference in the world.”
This article was written by Sam Thielman in New York, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 29th September 2015 20.17 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010