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Twitter Contemplates Lifting 140-Character Limit

FILE - A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California.

News that Twitter is contemplating lifting the 140-character limit on tweets and expanding to 10,000 has been met with mixed reaction in its estimated user base of 300 million.

The story was first posted on the website Re/code. The site reported that the project, which is internally called “Beyond 140,” would start at the end of March.

The goal of any revamping would be to increase Twitter’s audience and generate revenue, something that has eluded the company. The move to extend the character limit is viewed as a way to make Twitter more approachable, like Facebook.

Twitter has yet to turn a profit.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended the idea on Twitter, saying, “We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it. Instead, what if that text … was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.”

Dorsey, who was named CEO in October after being ousted in 2008, also founded payment system Square.

Dorsey launched Twitter in 2006 with a strict 140-character limit so that it could be used via text messages, which had a 160-character limit at the time. Some Twitter users oppose the idea of a longer character limit, saying the tweets would become too long.

Analysts say Dorsey will have to walk a thin line between Twitter purists who love the 140-character limit and shareholders who are seeking advertising revenue.

Twitter can’t afford “to become stagnant, they need to get bigger if they want to build a more relevant advertising platform,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Blake Harper told the Associated Press.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities said increasing the limit on tweets could be a “good, baby step” toward attracting more users.

“Twitter is an afterthought in social media right now,” Pachter told AP. “They need to do something to drive more usage of the service. If people start using the service more frequently, other users will come join in, too.”

Twitter’s stock lost over 2 percent over the news. The stock was down a further 1 percent Wednesday.

The company has been attempting to innovate in many ways of late. Last year, it started a new tab called “Moments,” which is curated content aimed at making finding information easier.

The company also changed the star-shaped “Favorite” button to a heart-shaped “Like” button.