Big changes are on the horizon for microblogging service and Neo-Nazi haven Twitter.com. No, they aren’t cracking down on harassment. Jack and the Twitter product team came up with something even better: they’re making posts longer for some reason!
Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters? 🤔
We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280! Excited about the possibilities? Read our blog to find out how it all adds up. 👇https://t.co/C6hjsB9nbL
— Twitter (@Twitter) September 26, 2017
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Quick question – does anyone at Twitter actually, uh, use Twitter? Judging by the opening sentence in the official blog post explaining this change, nope!
Yes, that is literally the entire point of Twitter. If you can’t fit something into 140 characters, get better at condensing your thoughts. Pretty simple!
It could have been much worse, though, judging by the replies to the original announcement.
Edit has 4 characters. Can we start there instead?
— Ian Petchenik (@petchmo) September 26, 2017
Edit button? Yes, hello?
Please? Thank you?
— Stylosa (@unitlostgaming) September 26, 2017
RT if you think Twitter needs an edit button! instead of #280characters
— Ali (@SpookyAly) September 27, 2017
Tweet editing button is more important than adding the characters limit
— Ramini (@iRamini89) September 27, 2017
Okay, here’s why a Twitter edit button is a really bad idea.
Imagine, if you will, that somebody tweets the following sentence: “Retweet if you love respecting the flag!”
It spreads like wildfire. It’s all over Twitter. And then…
It gets edited to say “Retweet if you love sucking on frozen dog turds like popsicles!”
Thousands of earnest grandparents, who definitely don’t know how to unretweet something, will be stuck with a declaration of their love of dog turds on their pages.
Hilarious? Yes, of course. Confused old people accidentally saying they love dog turds is very funny. But here’s what’s going to happen: the exact same people currently clamoring for an edit button will do an about-face and write long, rambling, 280-character screeds about how the edit button enables even more harassment.
“Add a time limit!” people will respond, “Make it so you can’t edit a tweet after 45 seconds!”
Did you see how fast LeBron’s “Trump is a bum” tweet got to sextuple digits over the weekend? In 45 seconds, it was already well into the thousands. A time limit isn’t going to do a thing if the person’s audience is big enough. Yes, it might work if you have 72 followers and accidentally tweeted “Eating a sanwich” instead of “Eating a sandwich.” But at that point, who cares? Maybe, like, a dozen people saw your typo, and they knew exactly what you meant.
The edit button is a horrendous idea. Own your mistakes – all 280 characters of them.