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Twitter to remove 140-character limit for direct messages

You can now speak your mind in a private message on Twitter, with no character limits to hold you back.


Twitter's making a bigger bet on private messaging. The company announced on its developer blog today that starting in July it's removing the 140-character limit on direct messages; the private messages you can send to another Twitter user. The news comes the same day Twitter announced that Dick Costolo is out as CEO come July.

Early on in Twitter's life, it added the ability to let you privately chat with other users several years back, but it has never been a core feature of the service. Instead, users came to Twitter to share short updates publicly with their followers. Now, with growing competition from other social networks and message apps, like Facebook and WhatsApp, Twitter is looking to keep up and make messaging a bigger deal.

Getting rid of the limit is just another step in that direction, following other changes to direct messages. Earlier in 2015, Twitter launched group direct messages, where multiple users could chat at once, and then later let any user message someone else privately. Before that, two people needed to follow each other to have a private conversation.

Tweets, the public messages you post to Twitter, have long had a limit of 140 characters (meaning letters, numbers, spaces and special characters like exclamation marks or periods) you can use. That limit goes back to when you could post to Twitter by sending a text message. The SMS character limit is 160, which gave you 140 for your tweet and 20 for your username. That limit is no longer necessary in the age of smartphones and Twitter apps, but the social network has kept it around to encourage you to keep your messages short.