This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Twitter is testing out 280-character limit tweets, doubling the standard 140-character length. The company saw the shorter limit was “a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English.” However Japanese, Chinese, and Korean characters will not get the extension because it is easier to say more in smaller amount of characters.
Twitter said the goal was to eliminate what it viewed as constraints that kept people from tweeting more frequently. One significant barrier, according to Twitter’s internal research, has been the stringent limit on character count. “When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people tweeting,” Twitter said in a blog post.
It is a significant moment for the 11-year-old Twitter, which has been trying to figure out how to change the social media service without alienating the people who have embraced its short format. The idea of extending the length of Twitter posts has been contentious internally, batted around among product groups that are trying to find ways to persuade people to use the service more frequently. At 328 million users, Twitter has been criticized for its inability to attract more people. Investors have grown nervous, as that slowing of user growth has affected the company’s revenue.
Last year, Twitter tried extending its character count by allowing people to post photos and GIFs without counting them against the overall character limit. It also toyed with longer posts exceeding 140 characters, until criticism from users prompted Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, to proclaim that the limit was here to stay.
Twitter is now preparing for a backlash from those who might take issue with a 280-character tweet.
“We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters,” the company said. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.”
The negative reaction was swift, however. Some on Twitter proclaimed it a “terrible idea.”
While it’s no secret that the fabled 140-character limit has long been a crucial part of Twitter’s identity as a platform and has shaped the “tweet” into its own specific format, what might come as a surprise is how strident and pointed the calls to keep tweets shorter have been.
A large segment of those protesting the change see it as a diversion from more essential improvements to Twitter, like bettering its harassment reporting tools, killing the platform’s giant bot networks, taking an unequivocal stance against hate speech, and banning the Nazis, a phrase that has become all but rote across the site.
Those granted the new 280-character limit mainly used it to protest the new 280-character limit. Among the people who trended #Twitter280 for most of Wednesday, the vast majority seem to prefer the traditional 140-character limit, instead of the new doubling to 280 characters.
like i appreciate that i may soon be able to make even longer screams but it'd be great if you stopped making the world worse @jack
— Endless Screaming ⚧ ☭ (@infinite_scream) September 26, 2017
twitter: what do you guys want
everyone: get rid of the nazis and fix the report system
twitter: did I hear 280 characters
— Goth Ms. Frizzle (@spookperson) September 26, 2017
Twitter has yet to roll out the feature to everyone. The company says it will be collecting data and feedback from its test group before it makes any changes. In any case, Twitter says it plans to keep everyone posted regarding this possible change in character limit, so it’s time to keep an eye on that @Twitter account!