Twitter increased the character limit of tweets this week, from 140 to a whopping 280.
I have no strong opinions on this, honestly — it was an arbitrary limit dictated by earlier technology which spurred creative work-arounds, but the pure 140-character tweet (without pics, gifs or links) has been dead and gone for quite a while now. Some folks think this spells the end of the platform, but I doubt it.
More to the point is everything Twitter isn’t doing, changes users have been begging for a long time: better handling of abuse and hate speech, the removal of neo-nazis and white supremacists, protection from mobs of trolls and harassers.
Carlos Maza covers the complexities of protecting free speech on social media platforms in a recent Vox video.
I love how nihilistic this is. "More expression! More of what's happening! We've lost control of our platform! God is dead! Rejoice!" https://t.co/DM4srUnOQh
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) November 7, 2017
In light of these challenges (and Twitter’s inaction in rising to them with any coherent vision of what meaningful conversation might actually look like), bumping up the character limit to 280 seems largely irrelevant. What will we say in 280 characters that we haven’t learned to say in 140?
They loosened the corset
but too late. Our organs,
long since grown narrow,
shook in the space
like a rattle, making
— Alison Leigh Lilly (@alileighlilly) November 8, 2017