Twitter Blue’s new 10,000 character limit has turned the social media platform into a potential hub for long-form writing. The latest upgrade offers subscribers the ability to post essays, complete with bold and italic formatting, that could rival those of popular newsletter platforms like Substack. The company’s announcement came just weeks after Twitter increased the character limit for Blue from 280 to 4,000 characters, highlighting the firm’s intent to compete with its newsletter competitors.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that Twitter has introduced long-form writing features. Under previous leadership, the company tested a new Notes feature for writers and acquired the newsletter firm Revue in 2021 (and shut down Revue in Jan 2023). However, both programs were eventually scrapped by Elon Musk, who has been an outspoken critic of newsletter platforms like Substack.
Twitter’s intention to rival Substack is clear. The company recently rebranded its “Super Follow” feature to “Subscriptions,” offering creators the ability to earn income directly through Twitter. Musk even promised that Twitter wouldn’t take any money from creators for the next twelve months. At present, monetization through Subscriptions is only available to US users.
In its attempt to entice creators with shiny new tools and monetization terms, Twitter appears to be taking a less hostile approach than its recent attempts to undermine rival platforms. Last week, Twitter began blocking Substack users from embedding tweets into their stories, eventually blocking almost all engagement on tweets containing links to Substack and flagging them as “potentially spammy or unsafe.” Twitter has since walked back on its throttling efforts, while Substack introduced a new Notes feature that adds Twitter-like elements to the service.
Twitter has an uphill battle to fight if it wants to shed its reputation as a short-form blogging platform. While some creators have expressed interest in the new long-form features, many everyday Twitter users may be reluctant to read beyond the platform’s traditional text snippets. According to data reported by The Information, Twitter Blue is struggling to attract subscribers, with an estimated 290,000 global subscribers, which is just 0.1 percent of the roughly 250 million daily active users reported by Twitter last year.