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’Still 140 characters’: Twitter CEO Quashes Rumor of Longer Tweets

In an appearance on the Today show, Jack Dorsey put to bed rumors that the site might extend tweets to a 10,000 character limit

The move comes at at time when the company is struggling to monetize its service in the vein of Facebook and Google. Photograph: Lauren Hurley/PA
Twitter’s much-loved 140-character limit is “staying.”

That’s what Jack Dorsey, one of the company’s founders and its newly reinstated CEO said in an appearance on the Today show on Friday.

Rumors in January about Twitter switching from a 140-character limit to a 10,000 character limit were met with overwhelming derision from users who felt the platform’s built-in brevity is its soul.

However, Dorsey told presenters Carson Daly and Matt Lauer that 140 characters was “a good constraint for us.”

“It allows for of-the-moment brevity,” he added.

This is a difficult time for the company, which is struggling to monetize the service in the way that larger social networks or tech companies like Facebookand Google have been able to do, as well as grow its user base, which has hit an apparent ceiling at 300m.

Its stock price has been in a precipitous decline for more than a year. In March 2015 Twitter stocks were trading at over $50 per share; today they are worth just $16.83 per share. When the 10,000 characters-rumor surfaced, the company’s share price dropped 2% overnight.

In giving this assurance, Dorsey hopes to calm his user base, many of whom have been in near-open revolt against the company for a variety of what have often been perceived as poorly-judged and heavy-handed changes.

Dorsey was reinstated as acting CEO of Twitter in October 2015, following Dick Costolo’s resignation, and became permanent chief executive of the company in October. Since then, he has been the focus of ire for many users for his attempts to, as users see it, fix a service that isn’t broken.

In November, Twitter suddenly replaced the star-shaped “fav” button with a heart-shaped “like” button, a move many users saw as spectacularly out of touch with the way the platform is used.

Especially in the context of reacting to bad news such as police violence or school shootings, users felt uncomfortable using the emotionally-positive heart as compared to the emotionally-neutral star.

Nor is this the first time Dorsey has had to publicly disavow widely-believed rumors among his user base - gossip travels fast on Twitter. In January, users were then dismayed to hear that Twitter was planning to change to an algorithmic, rather than a chronological, order.

Again, Twitter’s stock price took a hit. Dorsey tweeted out a denial that timelines were going to change.

By Robert Muriisa.

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