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Joseph Kaminski

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July 20, 2018

If Twitter Changes Their Character Limit to 10,000…

In a world going through the final steps of globalization, social media platforms are turning into daily routine. Twitter, an online social networking service that was created in March 2006, has been dominating the recent surge of social media since the (beginning of the) collapse of Facebook, which should be losing 80% of its users by 2017. While the social platform game has drastically changed since the pioneering of cluttered sites like Myspace, which launched on August 1st, 2003, the gimmick of Twitter has (for the most part) stayed the same throughout its current lifespan.

While the layout has changed drastically over time (a controversial change in design happened in 2013-2014, making it look more professional while also copying a trend “set” by Facebook), their remained aspects of Twitter that made it legitimately unique. Instead of likes, Twitter showcased favorites until very recently. This was yet again another controversial change, with lots of users claiming Twitter was attempting to copy Facebook, an already dying media outlet in social media standards. Others, however, have claimed the design changes have been mandatory.

Long gone are the days of clunky layouts, drop shadows, and bezzled graphics. Cluttered layouts are considered obsolete, and  mobile layouts are the prominent focus of popular websites. We’ve entered a new generation of web design — that of responsive, interactive, easy to skim content that draws the eyes of users. Psychological aspects have entered the world of graphic design with the use of white space, headings, and specific typefaces.

The older layout of Twitter, replaced in 2014, greatly represents a dying breed of social media by being more cluttered and clunky comparative to their new design

The older layout of Twitter, replaced in 2014, greatly represents a dying breed of social media by being more cluttered and clunky comparative to their new design

Some changes have been fantastic. The new layout is overall a better representation of the new level of social media. However, like many websites, apps, and operating systems, Twitter became overall focused on the color white.

White, when stared at for a long time, can hurt people’s eyes. Our eyes aren’t designed to stare at computer or phone devices all day, and this new web design craze of making everything a bright white (such as Twitter’s newest Navigation bar) can pose serious risks on not only viewer health but user interest, as well.

Of course, this site can be seen as hypocritical, being mostly white. There’s a difference between having a background being white and having all main and accent colors being in the same spectrum, however.

While some of these changes, like the layout change and the mostly despised switch from a star-represented ‘Favorite’ to a heart-represented ‘Like’, have been seen as a poor attempt at copying rival social platforms, we can’t blame Twitter itself for it. Design standards have been constantly developing and changing, with basic codes even changing and depreciating previous standards entirely. Sure, some websites have pioneered the new design ideas — such as the very smart (but sometimes overdone) use of the color white or flat, modern graphics instead of blocky, rasterized ones. These elemental changes can be seen as good design. However, others could be seen as irritating (especially to those who dislike change or are used to something being like what they’re used to).

As of May 2015, Twitter has more than 500 million users, of which more than 302 million are active. To compare, as of March 2015 there have been a recorded 1.44 billion active users on Facebook. However, according to Princeton researchers (as stated beforehand), Facebook is expected to lose 80% of their users by this time 2017. Twitter, in short, is a more modernized version of Facebook. You can do everything on Twitter that you could do on Facebook (check the news, talk with friends, etc.) with stuff that is actually useful. Instead of terrible flash-based games and privacy invading tagging systems, Twitter has been initiating new and innovative ideas such as the addition of Twitter Moments, a more in-depth and quick source of the most important news of the week.

Changing design standards, for the most part, is a good thing. Websites change just like society itself, going along with whatever has been considered the most interactive, most interesting, and most appealing. Adding new and intuitive aspects or adding new features could make websites even more enjoyable. However, Twitter is considering completely changing a core element to their website.

People on Twitter, for those who don’t know, are limited to 140 characters in messages that are called “Tweets.” This has been seen as an innovation, limiting people and challenging thought processes to say their thoughts in such a limited fashion. As an example, the following blob of Lorem Ipsum has exactly 140 characters.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec finibus vel mauris quis iaculis. Nam eu porttitor eros. Nulla finibus, mi al.

The idea of Twitter was to express yourself while being short and limited. Of course, people have tried to get around this with third party platforms like TwitLonger or adding (1/7), (2/7), etc. to the end of their tweets to showcase larger thoughts. Twitter’s Direct Messaging system has a larger limit of 10,000 characters, allowing in-depth personal conversation to occur away from the public’s eyes. Large blocks of text, just like the overall abundance of white, can bother people.

But now, Twitter is considering changing the core element that has separated them from basically every other social media platform. They wish to extend the limit of characters on everyday tweets. Can you imagine the backlash? Terrible spammers already inhabit Twitter with their horrendous shortlinks, weird accented characters to avoid spam filters, and “follow for follow” messages despite never posting anything else. We see terrible platforms like TrueTwit taking over a huge sector of spam when it comes to messaging and following. Imagine if these sources, the bots that constantly send spam messages and the scam artists hidden in the form of companies (like TrueTwit) managed to be unlimited in how much they could send at once?

Chaos, pure chaos.

If you’re scrolling down on a feed, you want several key elements. You want consistency, with each and every Tweet being somewhat the same size. This allows you to be settled on a key aspect to how Twitter works. You want accessibility, with easy to read and understand what exactly you’re reading. This is definitely allowed (in most cases) by limiting messages to 140 characters. Not only do you have to be more innovative — trying to stay under 140 characters — you have to do what most news sites have to do. You have to grab the attention of readers by saying your points quickly in a headline format. People quickly scan (another aspect of responsive design), meaning your thoughts have to quickly show themselves on a feed literally covered with them.

But imagine the spam, now. Not only would users have to pause their nonstop scrolling, scrolling, scrolling to get in-depth Tweets, could you imagine the over-imbalanced “FOLLOW FOR FOLLOW” trains that would wash over your feed? People, for some reason, “retweet” or share those spammy, worthless tweets already. They’re already annoying enough when they’re limited to half a dozen random emoticons and seven or eight user handles. Imagine if they suddenly could tag thousands of people in one Tweet! The endless scrolling that could happen because of one hyped “follow train”!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Twitter upping their limit slightly. Somewhere between 150 – 250 characters could still be restrictive enough to be interesting and small enough to limit spam. For reference, the following quote of Lorem Ipsum is exactly 250 characters.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec convallis consectetur turpis, eu lacinia nisl sagittis lacinia. Suspendisse interdum venenatis mollis. Vestibulum suscipit convallis tincidunt. Donec tincidunt mi et odio commodo, in pla.

Still adjustable. Not overall annoying and easy to continue scrolling past, even on mobile.

However, Twitter isn’t considering upping their limit to 150 or 250. They’re considering changing the limit to an astonishing TEN THOUSAND CHARACTERS. A full ten thousand characters! Imagine the endless arguments that could pop up on your feed. Sure, they can be pseudo-interesting and even humorous at 140 characters (in example, literally anything dumbass Donald Trump tweets), but could you imagine the endless walls of political, religious arguments that are linked to each other? Could you imagine the endless spam that would come from the already-faulty Twitter support staff (that literally only seems to block innocent people) and filters (that can be tricked with accented characters)?

Now, imagine this blog showed up on your mobile Twitter feed.

This blog is exactly 9,259 characters long.

It, along with 741 more words, would fit in one tweet if Twitter decides to change their restrictive 140-character limit to 10,000 characters.

If you support this change to 10,000 characters, please quit social media.

Open a blog, like this, instead.

Keep social media short, express your opinions in-depth elsewhere.

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