Twitter to roll out 280-character tweets worldwide

Todd Singleton
November 8, 2017

In a blog post, Aliza Rosen, a Twitter project manager wrote, "We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn't easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback". Twitter said those Asian languages can convey about double the amount of information in one character compared with many other languages. The change was made to give people more space to express themselves in certain languages where the company felt the 140 restriction was limiting.

Twitter said it ran a test on 280-character tweets in September that showed users spent less time editing their tweets and were less likely to abandon them.

Increasing the character limit should not affect people's experience on the site, she added. Now every Twitter user - from first-day users to President Donald Trump - will have twice the room to share their thoughts. "But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained".

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The 140-character limit was based on the limitations of short-message service technology, also known as SMS, which is used to send text messages. But now, most people use Twitter through its mobile app; the 140-character limit is no longer a technical constraint but nostalgia. SMS has largely become obsolete to Twitter users as smartphone technology has advanced.

The change won't apply to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages because the density of their writing allows users to say more with fewer characters. Rozen said users with the longer character count earned more likes, retweets, and mentions, along with more followers.

Not everyone was using the extra space: Only 5 percent of tweets were longer than 140 characters and just 2 percent went over 190. "We expect to see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week's launch and expect it to resume to normal behavior soon after", the company says. But if they needed those extra few characters, they "Tweeted more easily and more often", according to Twitter, which can apparently read users minds and determine when they are at ease.

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