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Twitter Expanding To 141 Characters
SAN FRANCISCO (CAP) - Officials for Twitter, Inc. have announced the first major overhaul of site functionality since the microblogging service went live in 2006, outlining plans to expand from the venerable 140-character message length to 141 characters. The change will be rolled out to users randomly over the next two weeks.
"Over the years, we've noticed a severe lack of punctuation and we're hoping this extra character will help facilitate better usage," said CEO Dick Costolo. "I mean, for crying out loud, would it kill you to use a period at the end of a sentence?"
According to Costolo, the one-character addition is the first part of a five-year plan to extend the text limitation to 144 characters "because it's the square of 12." After a successful rollout of the 141st character this year, Twitter will grow by one character per year for the next two years and then take a one-year hiatus before implementing the final two characters.
"We understand the strain we're putting on developers during this period of growth," said founder Jack Dorsey. "That break is important to give them a chance to take a breather, re-acquaint themselves with the outside world, play a little foosball.
"We're a family," added Dorsey. "And much like when a family decides to have another child, we're going to love our 141st character just as much as we love the 140 that came before it."
Whether or not that love is felt throughout the twitterverse remains to be seen. Initial reaction to the news has been mixed, with many long-time users claiming Twitter is "selling out" while others point out that most tweets don't resemble anything close to a sentence anyway, and adding a character "does not a complete sentence make."
"You know what, Twitter may be 40% pointless babble, but our goal is to achieve 40% grammatically correct pointless babble," Dorsey said.
To that end, some power users have already vowed not to utilize the 141st character and are trying to rally support for their boycott with the creation of the #justsaynoto141 and #keeptwttr140 hashtags. Conversely, Twitter's large contingent of teenage female users say they're excited to be able to squeeze in one more exclamation point.
"We expect there'll be some abuse of the extra character and we'll deal with those situations as they arise," said Dorsey. "If you want to tell your 1,487 followers that what you're eating is delicious, Mmm will suffice. You don't need to go all Mmmm just because you can.
"Don't pad the tweet, people," Dorsey added. "A smart tweeter is a popular tweeter."
To a user it may just be one extra character, but that expansion doesn't come without a cost. Based on current growth models, Dorsey said Twitter expects to be pushing an additional 51 gigabytes of traffic in the first year alone, and "that's a lot of floppies." By the time the five-year plan concludes, that may very well top a quarter of a terabyte of pointless babble.
"Thankfully, we still have investor money coming out the ears, so we should be able to cover that cost," said Costolo. "If not, we'll just have to get another round of funding or go IPO or get bought by Google or something."
Follow @capnews for the latest information on the Twitter expansion project.
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