Recode’s reactions to Twitter’s new, longer tweets: ‘I don’t have time to read your book’

Recode’s staff weighs in on Twitter’s new product test.

Twitter is testing longer tweets, which means some users now get 280 characters to say whatever is on their mind, instead of the 140 characters Twitter is traditionally known for.

If there’s one thing we know about Twitter, it’s that users love to hate whatever changes the company makes to the product. And this is a big change for Twitter, so we imagine that a lot of people will have a lot of thoughts about longer tweets.

Recode is full of passionate Twitter users with a lot of thoughts about most everything. So we asked our staff to weigh in on the update. The only rule: Supporters of the new character limit could tell us why they liked it in 280 characters; opponents of the change had to limit their arguments to the traditional 140-character limit.

Here’s where Recoders fall.


Love it

Dan Frommer, Editor in Chief

Love it. The rise of the “thread” has proven that Twitter is a great place to post longer ideas without linking out. But more than anything, it shows Twitter is experimenting with formats — something that is many years overdue. Twitter’s value is its network, not a hard 140 limit.

Peter Kafka, Senior Editor, Media

Sounds great!

But let’s not give it away for free: Make users earn additional characters. They could do so by doing good, or donating money, or by muting Donald Trump.

Kurt Wagner, Senior Editor, Social Media

This is long overdue. My only issue: Why stop at 280? In a world where news breaks on Twitter every single day, we shouldn’t be forcing people to cut important context from a tweet just to meet an unnecessary limit. I’m also sick of piecing together President Trump’s tweetstorms.

Johana Bhuiyan, Senior Editor, Transportation

1/2 I’m going to be that guy. The change is fine, but this is a dumb thing to focus on right now. Character limit is a menial thing that does nothing to address the important issues the current iteration of Twitter is facing, like how to police hate speech

2/2 If Twitter fully realized its role as the platform of choice for the president, news orgs and activists, it would ask itself: Do we provide the tools to help disseminate/elevate important info? Then we might see updates/terms that are useful.

Hate it

Kara Swisher, Executive Editor

Good. God. Donald. Trump. Gets. 280. Characters #wearedoomed #SAD.

Edmund Lee, Managing Editor

You don’t need 280. There’s always another tweet coming. Shorter is better.

Eric Johnson, Producer, Recode Radio

The current character limit is Twitter’s best feature. It’s perfect for jokes and forces people to write a bit more carefully. 280 is too ma

Teddy Schleifer, Senior Editor, Finance and Influence

Twitter forces people to be punchy. No BS, no hedging, no vacuous social graces. More characters means less candor and more obfuscation.

Meghann Farnsworth, Engagement Editor

PLEASE DON’T DO THIS, TWITTER. MAKE LINKS NOT COUNT AGAINST A WORD COUNT RATHER THAN GIVING IN TO PEOPLE WHO CANNOT EDIT THEMSELVES. PLEASE.

Rani Molla, Data Editor

A tweet is a little bit of poetry — a haiku but in 140 characters. The length makes you get to the point. I don’t have time to read your book.

Tony Romm, Senior Editor, Policy and Politics

I hate everything, including this. But at least I can analyze tech policy & complain about dating now in a single tweet. Also tip @techmeme.


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Dyson, the company that makes fancy vacuums, is building an electric car

Founder James Dyson announced the company’s plans in a staff email.

Household appliance manufacturer Dyson is taking a leap into building a different kind of appliance: An electric vehicle.

In an email to staff, Dyson founder James Dyson wrote that the company has been working on building a battery-powered electric vehicle with a team of 400 people. The company, best known for its vacuum cleaners, plans to launch their EV to the public by 2020.

In his email, Dyson wrote that the company will be investing two billion euro ($ 2.35 billion) into developing these cars. The company expects to manufacture the majority of the car in-house with the exception of components like tires for which Dyson will turn to traditional suppliers.

Dyson’s motivation, he wrote, was to help solve the current environmental crisis plaguing the earth — something he accuses traditional automakers of having done little to alleviate.

“In the period since, governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants,” Dyson wrote. “Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.”

Building a battery-powered EV is not an easy task. Just look at Tesla, which posted a record quarterly loss of $ 336 million at the end of August 2017. The company did beat revenue expectations, however, with $ 2.79 billion in sales. That was before the Elon-Musk-helmed company began producing its mass-market vehicle the Model 3.

Add to the costliness of manufacturing an EV, Dyson will have to compete with Tesla for its cult-like following.

It’s unclear how many cars Dyson plans to produce by 2020 or how they will be priced. But, if you subscribe to Musk’s vision, then the only way to actually impact environmental issues is to encourage or enable mass consumption of alternatively fueled cars.

Dyson’s move doesn’t come as a total surprise. Two high-profile hires from Aston Martin fueled speculation that the British company might be exploring manufacturing its own electric cars. In fact, former Tesla vice president of global communications Ricardo Reyes is leading Dyson’s global communications.

Here’s the full email:

In 1988 I read a paper by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, linking the exhaust from diesel engines to premature death in laboratory mice and rats. In March 1990 a team at Dyson began work on a cyclonic filter that could be fitted on a vehicle’s exhaust system to trap particulates.

Sketches Dyson included in his email.

By 1993 we had developed several working prototypes and showed an early iteration to British television programme Blue Peter. The team went on to develop a much more sophisticated technology.

To our chagrin, nobody at the time was interested in employing our diesel exhaust capture system and westopped the project. The industry said that ‘disposing’ of the collected soot was too much of a problem! Better to breathe it in?

In the period since, governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants. Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.

Throughout, it has remained my ambition to find a solution to the global problem of air pollution. Some years ago, observing that automotive firms were not changing their spots, I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem. Dyson carried on innovating. The latest digital motors and energy storage systems power the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuum line. We’ve relentlessly innovated in fluid dynamics and HVAC systems to build our fans, heaters and purifiers.

At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product. Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source. So I wanted you to hear it directly from me: Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.

We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.

The project will grow quickly from here but at this stage we will not release any information. Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential

In London, nearly 9,500 people die early each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London. The World Health Organisation reports “in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure”. It is our obligation to offer a solution to the world’s largest single environmental risk. I look forward to showing you all what I hope will be something quite unique and better, in due course!

James


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Recode Daily: Those Russia-backed Facebook ads were intended to divide Americans before the election

Plus, did Trump’s threatening tweet violate Twitter’s ToS? Also, WTF projects a 70-foot-tall pro-Obamacare ad on Congress; and how to survive the apocalypse.

The Kremlin-sourced ads on Facebook ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election were aimed at stoking social tensions and potential political unrest. So far, Facebook has provided all 3,000 ads, which played to both sides of hot-button issues like Black Lives Matter and gun control, only to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal probe into Russian interference. [Tony Romm / Recode]

Twitter says President Donald Trump’s tweet that threatened North Korea was potentially in violation of its terms of service. But because the tweet was “newsworthy,” it was allowed to stay up, and the president’s account wasn’t suspended. Yesterday, Twitter said it will update its public guidance on what factors may lead to a tweet being pulled from the platform — or allowed to stay on it — to include a consideration of newsworthiness. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Fox’s FX is pulling more of its shows off of rival streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, and putting them on its homegrown FX+ service. Like other big studios and networks, Fox has been making noise about reclaiming shows like “The Americans” from other companies; if you want to watch old Fox shows, you’ll have to watch them on Hulu or other Fox properties. [Peter Kafka / Recode]

Levi’s and Google are selling a $ 350 jean jacket you can use to control your phone. It’s supposedly designed for bike commuters. [Dieter Bohn / The Verge]

Rapper Eminem’s music catalog is going public in a first-of-its-kind deal, with investors and fans able to buy shares of hit songs like “Lose Yourself,” “Stan” and “The Real Slim Shady.” Eminem is not involved in the sale; the Bass Brothers production team, which signed Eminem to a local record deal in 1995, is putting part of its multi-million dollar royalty stream up for investment. [Brian McCollum / Detroit Free Press]

Top stories from Recode

President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka are unveiling a new federal computer science initiative with major tech backers.

Plus, tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google will commit new support to coding education.

A new political group backed by Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman is running its first ad in support of Obamacare.

The latest on Win the Future, or WTF.

Where the software industry is growing outside Silicon Valley.

Indiana and North Carolina are among the states seeing the fastest growth.

This is cool

How to survive the apocalypse.


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Venture firm IVP has raised its biggest fund yet at $1.5 billion

A sign of the times.

With valuations of private companies climbing higher and higher, some venture capital firms have a simple solution: Larger funds.

IVP, the firm founded 35 years ago that specializes in later-stage investments, on Tuesday said it had raised its largest fund yet — a $ 1.5 billion pool of money that is their 16th in the venture business.

Some of IVP’s most well-known investments in recent years include Twitter, Slack, Dropbox and Snap, though they tended to invest in those companies after some earlier-stage venture firms had discovered them.

IVP said their ability and eagerness to deploy so much cash showed that the firm was an “island of stability in the midst of the storm.”

“There’s been all kinds of bad publicity about the venture business. Valuations are too high. There’s too much money in the sector. People misbehaving,” Sandy Miller, one of the firm’s general partners, told Recode. IVP’s fund is “basically a validation that this is a healthy environment.”

IVP expects to invest in 35 to 40 companies over the 10-year fund’s lifespan; check sizes range from $ 10 million to $ 100 million.

The firm is still awaiting several large exits from some of its prospects. Dropbox is strongly expected to go public either late this year or early next year; Slack’s path toward an IPO was perhaps delayed by the millions it just accepted from SoftBank’s $ 100 billion Vision Fund.

Miller said, though, that the Vision Fund could be a force for good.

“The Vision Fund is a wild card but could be a significant factor in terms of exits for venture,” he said, explaining that investors have “new vehicles” for liquidity by possibly selling their stakes to SoftBank.

And as for Snap, which has sharply fallen since going public earlier this year?

“We’ve been disappointed with what happened in the public marketplace,” Miller said. “Whatever companies are losing money and have this high a profile — they’re going to be very volatile in the public market. But volatility can go in both directions.”


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Twitter says Donald Trump’s tweets are newsworthy, which might explain why he hasn’t been suspended

Trump appeared to threaten North Korea in a tweet, and Twitter is trying to explain why he wasn’t suspended.

President Donald Trump appears to have violated Twitter’s user guidelines with a recent tweet about North Korea. The company doesn’t plan to punish him for it, and now it’s trying to explain why.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted a message about North Korea and dictator Kim Jong-un that included a thinly veiled threat. Threats are against Twitter’s user guidelines, which forbid tweets that include “threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.”

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N.,” Trump tweeted. “If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

North Korea took the “won’t be around much longer” part of the tweet as a threat, claiming on Monday that Trump’s post was a “clear declaration of war.”

Some wondered on Monday why Twitter hadn’t removed the tweet — violating the company’s rules usually means the tweet is removed and the account is suspended.

In a somewhat confusing post on Monday, the company shed some light on why the tweet was allowed to stay up.

Twitter’s explanation: Because it was newsworthy.

“We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules,” the company wrote in a post. “Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a Tweet is of public interest. This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will.”

A company spokesperson clarified to Recode that Twitter’s post was not confirming that Trump’s tweet violated its rules. Just that “newsworthiness” is one factor that is used internally to determine whether or not to take something down.

This won’t sit well with a lot of people. Trump routinely walks the line when it comes to Twitter’s abuse and safety rules, and given that newsworthiness is a consideration in how to respond, it’s tough to imagine a scenario in which he might cross the line. As the president, everything he tweets is newsworthy.

Twitter has never acknowledged publicly that Trump has violated any of its guidelines — it rarely even acknowledges Trump’s tweets. Back in July, for example, Twitter’s VP of Trust and Safety, when asked about Trump, told a group of reporters that, “The rules are the rules, we enforce them the same way for everybody.”

CEO Jack Dorsey has long defended Trump’s tweeting. “I believe it’s really important to have these conversations out in the open, rather than have them behind closed doors,” he said in May.


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