10,000 Character Tweets! Maybe.
In case you haven’t heard, Re/code is reporting that Twitter, the social platform built on brevity, is “considering” expanding tweets to 10,000 characters. Let me be the umpteenth person to throw my hat (and two cents) in the ring on this. Ultimately, for me, this massive expansion of characters breaks the initial spirit that made/makes Twitter great: fast news, fast conversation, and fast links. That said, change is inevitable, stock prices mean a lot investors, so if Beyond 140 is the new direction for Twitter, so be it. I simply have to trust Jack and his team that same user and content experience they are sorta-kinda promising to keep stays.
I don’t want to get into the trap or circular argument of “it’s a platform that doesn’t create it’s own content, it uses ours”. This is a moot point better left to meta-physical philosophers to argue over the merits. What upsets me more is the soon-to-be monetization of their blatant content-grab, while simultaneously punching content producers/publishers in the face, in what can only be called the New Social Media model.
Twitter Cashing In On The New Social Media Model
Why offer more robust, larger, continental-sized tweets? One might assume it is to compete with Facebook, allowing users more freedom to create more verbose, meaningful posts. One might even guess that it has to do with larger corporations wanting more “room” to get their message out without having to be in the vice-grips of 140 characters.
My hypothesis is that it has everything do with advertising revenue (which is not that big a stretch or revelation). Not only do bigger, badder posts allow Twitter to potentially charge more for promoted tweets (I guess we could call them novellas at this point), but it’s also a way to keep users on-site longer, and as Re/code points out, “luring new users,” helping to put ad messaging in premium tier of costs (or at the very least get more advertisers).
What I also take a wee-bit of umbrage to is the idea that, like Google and Facebook, Twitter is deliberately tying a helluva large kink in the traffic hose to outside content producers and publishers. Twitter will become the stingy gate-keeper – keeping a lot of the traffic (and content) for itself while passing less and less of it on to publishers. And, of course, twisting and tweaking their algorithm will go through so as to cater to Big Ad while attempting to make those intrusions as inconspicuous to users as possible. Very much a “Keep Calm and Carry On” mentality.
If content producers can practically publish posts if/when Beyond140 goes live, users don’t need to links to read the content. And, to top it all off, Twitter would “own” that content. It’s a double-whammy: publishers have the potential to lose a major, perhaps vital, pipeline of inbound traffic, while also giving up the rights to owning the content. Sounds like a sweet deal.
It will alter the way we construct tweets, for those of not interested in writing a personal biography every tweet: links first, then context of the link. There are more varied ramifications to be sure; allow some one to stream-of-conscious thoughts, and they’re going to. Think political, religious, activism, hate-speech, etc. I suspect people’s block usage will increase two-fold. Twitter’s Beyond 140 might accomplish everything they hope in terms of increasing monetization and creating happy investors, but it also might be the thing that drives a stake through the heart of the platform.