The arrival of 4,000 characters, revolution or chaos?

The arrival of 4,000 characters, revolution or chaos?

Remember. Here we are in 2017 and Twitter decides to double the size of posts. No more than 140 characters – indicating the maximum length of an SMS – Hello 280 characters. Internet users are lost and crying (okay, yes, we’re exaggerating a bit). Five years later, the play was soon forgotten and no one stood against the change. But discontent can soon return. In a brief response to one user, new Twitter boss Elon Musk confirmed that he would increase the length of posts to 4,000 characters, roughly the equivalent of an essay. 20 minutes.

Stéphanie Laporte, founder and program director of the Otta agency at Inseec, estimates that this new function could be “an additional nail in Twitter’s coffin” after paid certification, mass layoffs and modest downsizing. For good reason, the expert warns that by significantly extending the length of tweets, the multi-billionaire is “damaging the spirit of Twitter.”

Towards a multitasking network?

Because it is this spirit of microblogging that has ensured Blue Bird’s success. “Twitter is an exercise in abstraction and synthesis. In one or two lines, we have information,” explains Stephanie Laporte. For those who want to understand something a little longer, there are still very popular texts, especially those used by scientists during the coronavirus pandemic. “Today, some texts are many. “A thousand characters, that’s true, but they’re rare and that’s not the core function of Twitter,” he adds.

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According to the expert, Twitter’s new boss wants to turn the platform into a “meta-social network, a multitasking platform” where published content will be longer. Facebook’s twin in a sense. “But if you want to make a point, there’s LinkedIn, Facebook or even blogs. On the other hand, Twitter should be a concise place where you can learn about information quickly,” warns Stephanie Laporte. Because this multitasking feature is the cause of Facebook’s downfall, he says: “In contrast, Instagram broke because the app was reduced to its sole use for sharing photos and videos, not drowning in a sea of ​​possibilities”.

Twitter risks losing some of its users. First, the new generation is “hostile to extended content”, according to experts, but its historical audience is also connected to this spirit of brevity. “If we see a wall of text coming, it will have a negative effect on both generations,” continues Stephanie Laporte. Especially since this feature “scrolling” disrupts the way users: “It doesn’t fit the mobile format, the text takes up the whole screen. Inevitably, there will be less user retention,” he continues.

While the feature hasn’t gone live yet, Twitter designer Andrea Conway has already shared her first mockups, giving a preview of what posts will look like. Posts will display the first 280 characters – the current limit – and then a “View More” button to view the full text.

This is what 4,000 character posts look like.
This is what 4,000 character posts look like. – Screenshot of Andrea Conway’s tweet

Moderate difficulties

Other risk is moderate. Having become a major concern since Elon Musk’s arrival, it could get worse with this new feature. “Now that we’re understaffed, we’re going to multiply the length of tweets by a factor of twenty, and moderate sizes are going to be terrible,” worries Stephanie Laporte.

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And with moderate complications comes the fear of misinformation. Because with 4,000 characters, some users may post somewhat repetitive articles or fake news. Others may put sensational information at the beginning — in the first 280 characters — “to ultimately deliver poor content in a long text,” the expert fears. “It can be misleading and harm the quality of content,” he adds.

Nevertheless, Elon Musk’s idea did not come out of nowhere, meeting the needs of some users. When browsing Twitter, it’s not unusual to come across a tweet including a screenshot of Kylian Mbappé’s note like the one below.

Unlike texts, experts—scientists, doctors, journalists—are more public figures who use this maneuver. There is a site for posting messages longer than 280 characters: TwitLonger. Here, at 4,872 characters, this article already looks like a Twitter 2.0 post.

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About the Author: Seth Sale

"Passionate creator. Wannabe travel expert. Reader. Entrepreneur. Zombie aficionado. General thinker."

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