An immodest proposal for expanding Twitter’s 140-character limit

Here’s an innovative way to empower people who really want to send longer tweets—and enable Twitter to generate billions of dollars

An immodest proposal for expanding Twitter’s 140-character limit
Credit: Martyn Williams

Twitter has a problem.

In fact, it has several problems. On the one hand, its iconic 140-character limit has helped make the service popular and easy to use. On the other hand, many tweeters desperately want to say more than they can squeeze into those 140 characters. And on the third hand, Twitter continues to struggle monetizing its vast user base.

A simple formula to save Twitter

Fortunately, I have an immodest proposal designed to solve all three problems in one fell swoop. And all it takes is a single, relatively simple formula.

Ready? Here goes:

If Twitter users want to exceed the 140-character limit, all they have to do is pay for the privilege. But instead of a flat fee, my clever formula works to maximize all of the important values.

Basically, the idea is to charge each tweeter for every character they use over the 140 limit, then multiply that fee by the number of Twitter followers they have. The numbers work out like this:

The first 140 characters are free, so if Twitter were to charge, say, a hundredth of a cent per extra character, a 150-character tweet from a person with 1,000 followers would cost (10 x $.0001) x 1,000 = one thin dime. A good deal, right?

Now, let’s look at this in the real world. What if Donald Trump just absolutely had to post something 150 characters long? He has 9.83 million followers, so it would cost him a little more: (10 x $.0001) x 9,830,000 = $9, 830. That’s a lot of money, but he’s rich and it might be worth it to him. Hillary Clinton has “only” 7.44 million followers, so the same tweet (not that the two would ever send out identical tweets) would cost her just $7,440. A bargain, right?

Twitter can tweak the values

Now, the key thing here is the formula, not the values. If these numbers don’t work out, Twitter can go ahead and tweak the values as much as it likes. It could lower rates for big uses, institute volume discounts (though that would complicate the formula), or charge companies more than non-profits or individuals.

In fact, this could generate so much cash that I suggest Twitter donate a healthy chunk of the proceeds to charity. (Maybe let the tweeter choose the charity from a pre-approved list.) Heck, I’m not even patenting my brilliant invention, so they can mess with it any way they like (though I’d prefer they credit me). 

You might be tempted to dismiss this idea as crazy and unworkable (I probably would if it came from someone else) but it really does promise to solve Twitter’s problems. 

It preserves the sanctity of the 140-character limit, yet empowers tweeters to exceed it as long as they’re willing to pay for the privilege. Plus, it doesn’t really penalize rank-and-file tweeters, who would face only very reasonable charges. At the same time, though, it has the ability to generate virtually unlimited revenue from the rich and popular and verbose. 

Perfect, right?

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