An issue near and dear to my heart. I used to have a Twitter account, something I was developing for the sake of my business long before I realized the partisan political ends of the corporation itself and thereafter the complete uselessness of its product as a whole. Twitter is a terrible service developed by a terrible company that had once had the gall to claim that they wanted the service to function as a new and essential public utility. How far have the mighty fallen! Every quarter they’re turning out huge income deficits whilst simultaneously turning away at least half their audience, possibly more considering the terrible product they actually provide.
You see, Twitter first came into being in a time when typical cell phones couldn’t manage text messages of over 140 characters. Hence the character limit it retains to this day. It was aimed predominantly to facilitate simple, short communications between friends via the application installed on cell phones. Problem is, even when new phones that had a much larger character limit for text communication became common, Twitter never sufficiently upgraded their product, and they never altered their service to suit their changing user base. As it is now, Twitter isn’t used nearly as much for short-stint communications between friends as much as it is an advertising platforms for corporations both mighty and minuscule–and for individuals both famous and unknown to pontificate on current events, predominantly politics.
They never updated the medium to suit this.
Let me get to the meat of this argument.
Imagine that you’re trying to lay out a political position in 140 characters. Consider also that you’ll need to add several hashtags so that the Tweet will be visible to a meaningfully large audience. You’re going to be restricted to a very small handful of words, probably nothing more than a very simple claim or condemnation–something like “Donald Trump is a Nazi #firstworldproblems #trustfundkids,” or “Bernie Sanders was ROBBED #ofcourseyadumby #I’mstillwithhersomehow.” What sort of response are you going to expect for a communication like that? I expect it will fall along party lines. Those that agree will disseminate the message further, voicing their own support, while detractors will rip you a new asshole. But imagine for a second if you didn’t have that character limit. Instead of merely indicating that the DNC illegally robbed the primary from Bernie Sanders, you might actually have the space to fully elucidate your position with your thinking on the subject alongside any evidence you might have accrued to support your position. In this quality, you’d be doing more than making a claim, you’d be making an argument. In this respect, you’d be engaging in real communication that would invite considerate and thoughtful response from both supporters and detractors. It wouldn’t have to descend into a shitstorm, as is so often the case with this platform. Now, I’m not a web developer, but I don’t see what’s stopping Twitter from relaxing the character limit in consideration of these factors.
I should also mention that Twitter, owing to the character limit, is near useless for authors trying to connect with their audience.
I have to believe that Twitter is either incompetent or that Twitter is little more than a mouthpiece for establishment doctrine. The only way they’d accept this level of income deficit is if they had the promise of income from elsewhere–for example, a large private or corporate backer.