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Twitter officially eliminates its 140-character limit on direct messages

Update on August 12, 2015: In a blog post, Twitter announced it has officially lifted the 140-character limitation in Direct Messages. As we previously reported, public tweets and Direct Messages via SMS will still be limited 140 characters, but private messages will look more like traditional messages, i.e. as long or as short as you want them to be.

The change “is another big step towards making the private side of Twitter even more powerful and fun,” Twitter Product Manager Sachin Agarwal writes.

Starting today, Twitter will implement the change in the latest versions of its apps for Android and iOS, on its website, TweetDeck, and Twitter for Mac. The worldwide rollout will continue through the next few weeks, Twitter says.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the change may be Twitter’s response to the growing popularity of messaging apps, led by WhatsApp and Snapchat. With the change, it could be Twitter’s attempt to generate new growth. Agarwal was mum when asked if Twitter might remove the limit on public tweets in the future.

Twitter is about to do away with its 140-character limit for Direct Messages. The change will come into effect next month, the social media company said in a message on its developer blog on Thursday.

Just to be clear, the 140-character limit for public tweets remains in place, with no sign of that altering.

This latest change is one of several made to the private messaging element of the app in recent months, and looks set to help Twitter compete more effectively with the myriad of popular messaging apps already on the market.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based company announced support for group messaging up to 20 users, while more recently it allowed users to opt in to receiving DMs from any other Twitter user. Before that, DMs could only be sent between two people who already followed each other.

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Twitter’s decision to ditch the limit for DMs makes sense, though some may wonder why it wasn’t done earlier.

Customer service agents, for example, will find the change useful, as they’ll now be able to engage more freely and naturally when contacting a user about a particular issue, and no longer have to knock out a detailed response across several messages.

“We’ve done a lot to improve Direct Messages over the past year and have much more exciting work on the horizon,” Twitter’s Sachin Agarwal said in the message to developers.

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News of the change to DMs was understandably overshadowed by much bigger happenings at Twitter on Thursday. If you haven’t already heard, CEO Dick Costolo has announced he’ll be leaving the top job on July 1. The decision comes amid investor frustration at the company’s apparent inability to grow its user base at a more rapid rate, among other ongoing issues.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey will step in as interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent successor. More details on the story can be found here.