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Twitter keeping 140-character limit on tweets after all

Despite rumors to the contrary, it looks like Twitter won't be letting users bloviate endlessly via tweets. The 140-character limit isn't going anywhere, says CEO Jack Dorsey.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says, Keep it short, OK?
Andrew Gombert/EPA/Corbis

So much for Twitter being home to the next Great American Novel.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder and CEO, said the San Francisco-based company won't be expanding the potential length of tweets users post on its service. In an interview with NBC's "Today" show, Dorsey said the 140-character limit, which dictates how long people's posts can be, will remain in place despite rumors he was considering a change.

"It's staying," he said. "It's a good constraint for us and it allows for of-the-moment brevity."

That's a seeming about-face from rumors Twitter was considering expanding tweets to 10,000 characters (or about 2,000 words). In January, Dorsey fanned those rumors by sending a tweet saying he aimed to respond to a new trend where users were including screenshots of text with their tweets to get around the character limit. What if an image of text "was actually text?" he wrote at the time.

The rumors of a change have excited many users who have clamored for a way to share their thoughts more expansively. Some users have taken matters into their own hands. In addition to the image-based workaround, various people on Twitter post "tweet storms," number-ordered tweets sent in succession to spell out an argument or opinion.

To be sure, Silicon Valley executives have a long history of insisting they aren't doing something, like building a tablet device or opening an app store, and then turning around and doing it when it becomes imperative. Apple's Steve Jobs was perhaps the most well known user of this tactic, famously trash-talking smaller tablets, larger phones, and styluses. Apple has since released all of those things.

Whether Twitter will take a similar path is unclear. The company may come up with better ways to help users post screenshots of text, or it may develop other methods of handling longer messages on the service.