Twitter testing doubled character limit

Twitter testing doubled character limit

It’s time to super-size your tweets! Twitter has started testing 280-character limit tweets, doubling the previous character limit, in an effort to help users be more expressive and to encourage dialogue.

In a statement released in a recent blog post, Twitter stated, “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English. When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!”

Why 140 characters in the first place?

Originally, the 140-character limit was established to reflect the length of standard SMS messages. This was done so because that’s how Tweets were initially distributed prior to the development of mobile apps. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters and Twitter reserved the remaining 20 for the username.

People often say that constraints breed creativity and, despite its 140-character limit, Twitter has actually become one of the most innovative and fast-paced online playgrounds.

Twitter as a whole

Twitter has always been known for real-time interactions and short, succinct messages. In the past, Twitter has considered expanding its limit and organizing timelines, but the 10,000-character tweets shown in a Facebook-style feed threatened to confuse the core product.

Twitter-users have been notoriously vocal against change on the platform, but this simple doubling perhaps won’t garner too much outrage. Controversial at first, maybe, but users Tweeting in English will surely embrace this new character freedom.

Changes made over recent years such as an algorithmic timeline, a new way of replying to tweets and replacing stars with hearts for liking tweets have proved controversial.

Tweeting in the future

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too,” Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen said. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.”

The test will not affect Asian markets which use script lettering, as tweets in those languages are rarely constrained by the existing limit anyway. The average length of a tweet in Japanese is 15 characters, and only 0.4 percent of Tweets hit the actual 140-character limit, Twitter says.

A Tweet from CEO Jack Dorsey shows what the new character limit looks like.


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