Wednesday September 26th, 2018 11:21AM

New looks come to Snapchat and Twitter in bid for more users

By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Struggling social-media darlings Twitter and Snapchat are taking on new looks as the services seek wider audiences in the shadow of Facebook.

Twitter is rolling out a 280-character limit for nearly all its users, abandoning its iconic 140-character limit for tweets. And Snapchat, long popular with young people, will undergo a revamp in hopes of becoming easier to use for everyone else.

Both services announced the moves Tuesday as they look for ways to expand beyond their passionate but slow-growing fan bases.

Twitter has said that 9 percent of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. People ended up spending more time editing tweets or didn't send them out at all. By removing that hurdle, Twitter is hoping people will tweet more, drawing more users in.

German bureaucrats — notorious for their ability to create lengthy tongue twisters consisting of one single word — celebrated Wednesday.

Germany's justice ministry wrote that it can now tweet about legislation concerning the transfer of oversight responsibilities for beef labeling.

The law is known in German as the Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz.

Munich police, meanwhile, said that "at last" they won't need abbreviations to tweet about accidents involving forklift drivers, or Niederflurfoerderfahrzeugfuehrer.

In Rome, student Marina Verdicchio said the change "will give us the possibility to express ourselves in a totally different way and to avoid canceling important words when we use Twitter."

Others were not impressed, including at least one who quoted Shakespeare: "Brevity is the soul of wit."

And, as Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel noted, change does not come without risk.

"We don't yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application," he said. "We're willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business."

Snap, Snapchat's parent company, did not provide details on the upcoming changes.

During the third quarter, Twitter averaged 330 million monthly users, up just 1 percent from the previous quarter. Snapchat added 4.5 million daily users in the quarter to 178 million, which amounts to a 3 percent growth. The company does not report monthly user figures.

Those numbers pale next to social media behemoth Facebook, which reported that its monthly users rose 16 percent to 2.07 billion.

"The one thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback," Spiegel said. "As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use."

His comments came on a conference call with industry analysts after the company posted the lackluster user-growth numbers and revenue that fell well short of Wall Street expectations. Snap's stock was bludgeoned Wednesday, falling almost 15 percent to close at $12.91. The Venice, California, company went public in March at $17 a share.

Snapchat needs to grow its user base beyond 13 to 34 year olds in the U.S., France the U.K. and Australia, Spiegel said. This, he said, includes Android users, people older than 34 and what he called "rest of world" markets.

Meanwhile, Snap said Wednesday that Chinese internet company Tencent has acquired a 10 percent stake in the company. Tencent runs the WeChat messaging app, as well as online payment platforms and games. Earlier this year, Tencent bought a 5 percent stake in Tesla Inc.

As for Twitter, the move to 280 characters was first started as a test in September.

"People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall," said project manager Aliza Rosen in a blog post .

The expansion to 280-character tweets will be extended to all users except those tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, who will still have the original limit. That's because writing in those languages uses fewer characters.

The company has been slowly easing restrictions to let people cram more characters into a tweet. It stopped counting polls, photos, videos and other things toward the limit. Even before it did so, users found creative ways to get around the limit. This includes multi-part tweets and screenshots of blocks of text.

Twitter's character limit was created so that tweets could fit into a single text message, back when many people were using texts to receive tweets. But now, most people use Twitter through its mobile app; the 140-character limit is no longer a technical constraint but nostalgia.


Barbara Ortutay reported from New York. Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Berlin and AP Videojournalist Paolo Santalucia in Rome contributed to this story.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Hearing for Trump's pick for Homeland Security
President Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security says cybersecurity will be one of her top priorities
10:58AM ( 1 minute ago )
New looks come to Snapchat and Twitter in bid for more users
A pair of struggling social-media darlings have decided they need new looks if they want to prosper
10:56AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Officials release name of wounded Pennsylvania state trooper
Authorities have identified a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who was shot several times during a traffic stop and remains hospitalized in critical condition
10:48AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Woman charged with murder warned against forced marriage
Investigators in central Pakistan believe a recently married 21-year-old was enticed by her boyfriend in a plot to kill her husband by poisoning his milk with rat killer
10:19AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Minneapolis elects transgender woman to City Council
Minneapolis has elected a black transgender woman to its city council in what advocacy groups say is a national first
10:15AM ( 44 minutes ago )
Energetic China welcome for Trump; trade, NKorea top topics
President Donald Trump will push China on trade and North Korea during a two-day visit in which he will alternately cajole, flatter and scold the rising Pacific power
10:15AM ( 45 minutes ago )
AP National News
The Latest: CBO sees less savings in health mandate repeal
Congress' nonpartisan budgetary analysts say ending the requirement that most people buy health insurance would save less money than was estimated earlier
10:11AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk meets Erdogan in Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office says the Turkish leader has met with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in Ankara
10:09AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Kim Kardashian West mum on all those sibling baby rumors
Kim Kardashian West mum on all those sibling baby boom rumors, says husband Kanye doing great
9:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Tencent buys 10 percent stake in Snap
Chinese tech giant Tencent buys 10 percent stake in Snap, expanding US investments
7:24AM ( 3 hours ago )
Uber reaches for the skies with plan for sleek flying taxi
Commuters of the future are likely to feel pampered if Uber's plans for flying taxis work out
7:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
FBI again finds itself unable to unlock a gunman's cellphone
The Texas church massacre is providing a familiar frustration for law enforcement: the FBI says it can't unlock the gunman's encrypted cellphone
3:56AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Officials release name of wounded Pennsylvania state trooper
Authorities have identified a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who was shot several times during a traffic stop and remains hospitalized in critical condition
10:48AM ( 12 minutes ago )
UK Cabinet minister under fire over secret Israel meetings
Britain's international development secretary has cut short a trip to Africa amid demands she be fired over unauthorized meetings with Israeli politicians
10:48AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Zimbabwe's Mugabe says fired deputy plotted via witchcraft
Zimbabwe's Mugabe says fired deputy plotted via witchcraft; Mnangagwa flees after threats
10:41AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Alford to sit 3 players reportedly involved in shoplifting
UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford will sit the three players reportedly involved in a shoplifting incident in China for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai
10:36AM ( 25 minutes ago )
US says Iran is arming Yemeni rebels with ballistic missiles
The United States has joined Saudi Arabia in accusing Iran of supplying Yemen's Houthi rebels with advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles
10:34AM ( 26 minutes ago )