Twitter to remove 140-character cap on direct messages

Social media platform announces users will be able to send 10,000-character direct messages starting from July

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Twitter will lift its 140-character limit on direct messages, the company announced on Thursday, as it comes under increasing pressure to grow its user base and advertising revenue following its recent CEO shakeup.

Direct messages can now have a maximum count of 10,000 characters, while regular tweets will still be limited to 140-characters. Twitter’s product manager for direct messages, Sachin Agarwal, made the announcement in a post last Thursday, which notified developers to update their apps.

The news came on the same day the company’s CEO, Dick Costolo, unexpectedly quit amid concerns about the speed of the company’s growth. Jack Dorsey, one of the company’s co-founders, has been appointed as interim CEO.

Twitter has recently been under pressure from investors to expand its user base and improve what's known as direct response advertising.

These ads prompt users to take an action, such as signing up for a website or buying a product, with improving them considered central to Twitter's ability to increase revenue.

Investors have been hoping the company makes the site easier to use so that more people become regular users and click on ads. Twitter's user base has been eclipsed by its competitors, with a total of 302 million users at present, compared with Facebook’s 1.4 billion and WhatsApp's 800 million.

The company’s new CEO will now face an important challenge in helping displeased advertisers connect with users. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of Twitter’s largest  shareholders, said in an interview with the Financial Times this weekend that he did not support Jack Dorsey holding the position permanently.

Dorsey has also stated he does not want to become a permanent CEO. “We're looking for someone who really uses and loves the product,” he said.

Adam Bain, the company's president and head of revenue, has emerged as an early favourite for the permanent position. Before joining Twitter in 2010, Bain served as president of the Fox Audience Network where he was responsible for monetising advertising platforms. At Twitter, he has helped grow the company’s advertising platform.

According to eMarketer, a company researching insights and trends in digital marketing, Twitter held a 1.6 percent share of the $50.7 billion US digital advertising market in 2014, compared with a 1 percent share in 2013. During the same period, Facebook’s share increased to 10.4 percent from 7.6 percent.

Twitter’s shares have lost 20 percent of their value since November 7, 2013, while Facebook’s value has risen 72 percent, Google’s 9 percent and Yahoo’s 27 percent. Twitter shares rose as much as 6 percent in late trading on Thursday, following news of Costolo’s resignation. Shares were stable at $35.88 in morning trade on Monday.

TRTWorld and agencies