Donald Trump (AP/Julie Jacobson)

Welcome to Twitter hell: Imagine Donald Trump trolling us all — 10,000 characters at a time

Twitter users demanded better safety and abuse controls—and the platform is testing longer tweets instead


Erin Coulehan
January 6, 2016 3:57AM (UTC)

Part of the appeal of Twitter is its brevity. A quick, 140 character expression of myriad news, emotion and information. It’s quick and convenient for our ever-moving lives, and allows us to obtain information in headline form. It also limits overwrought statements that can quickly become tedious -- and let’s admit it, annoying -- to read as we scroll through our feeds. If a person chooses to go on a rant via Twitter, they’re made aware of it by having to compose multiple tweets in quick succession for it to make sense. It’s as laborious for the user to write as it is for followers to read.

But that’s all about to change.

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Twitter is considering adding a feature that will enable readers to tweet in 10,000 characters, which also happens to be the character limit for direct messages.

The model being tested will display tweets as they currently appear, as 140 characters, but will have an added feature to indicate more content is available. Thank god for that. Imagine scrolling your feed only to find a 10,000 character rant from love-scorned follower, or vitriol spewed from Donald Trump? It would be enough to unfollow someone or leave Twitter entirely because 10,000 character tweets would begin to resemble lengthy Facebook posts that few have time or patience to read.

What would a 10,000 character tweet look like? The number seems daunting considering how conditioned we are to succinct 140 characters. Below is an example of my attempt at 10,000 characters:

Hi, I’m Erin and I’m a journalist. Once upon a time I had dreams of being a neurosurgeon, but opted to pursue writing instead because I have an insatiable curiosity for exploring and telling stories. My favorite color is red, and I’m now writing facts about myself that might be given in some sort of group introduction #awkward. Currently, this statement is at 362 characters (!!!) despite my best attempts to use as many words and as much punctuation as possible. Typically, I find myself eliminating words and punctuation in order to meet the 140 character limit of a tweet. Seriously, I don’t know what I might be so moved or inspired to write on Twitter that would take up 10,000 characters #WTF??? Do I even write text messages this long??? I chat with my friends and family via g-chat, email and Facebook messenger daily, and am wondering if any of those messages add up to 10,000 characters. I’m starting to feel like I’m writing in a diary. I don’t like wasting words, and feel neither clever nor creative. Surely, this can’t be good. This entire paragraph is at roughly 1000 characters.

Readers, I’ve tried and failed you. I’m not sure I’ve ever written my boyfriend that many characters in any conversation. It felt more like writing a manifesto rather than the brief, of-the-moment and to-the-point style Twitter has encouraged thus far in its history.

What difference will this make for Twitter users? Will anyone take the time to tweet 10,000 characters? Will anyone bother or care to read it?

Twitter also recently introduced new measures to track trolls and reduce the hate speech often tweeted at users. Last year, a number of high-profile Twitter users like Lena Dunham quit Twitter because the abuse was too much to handle.

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“We have spent longer and put more effort into user safety than any other issue. The measures we’ve taken correlate directly with a reduction in the amount of bad behaviour on the platform,” Bruce Dailey, head of Twitter in Europe told The Independent.

The new features don’t seem to add up. If Twitter is dedicating time to eliminate abuse from trolls, how is increasing the character limit going to aid in this mission? A 10,000 character tweet could easily be bait for a thirsty troll hoping to make a faceless fellow user as miserable as they are. It could get bad, especially if a troll’s response is in the form of 10,000 characters.

The access we have to publicly displaying every noise in our heads we consider a thought is a powerful one, and now there’s almost no limit.

(Please note that this post is just at the 4,000 character mark.)


Erin Coulehan

Erin Coulehan is a freelance journalist with work in Rolling Stone, Elle, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @miss_coulehan

MORE FROM Erin Coulehan

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Donald Trump Online Abuse Social Media Trolling Twitter

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