Twitter tests out a longer letter limit

Today Twitter announced some users will now have up to 280 characters to share their thoughts on the platform. 

Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen and Senior Software Engineer Ikuhiro Ihara announced the experiment stating the aim was to encourage remove the frustration caused by the 140 character limit. 

Rosen and Ihara pointed out that the 140 character limit (which Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has said was a completely arbitrary limit based on the 160 character SMS limit) has a different impact in different languages. 

Languages like Japanese, Korean and Chinese that allow people to convey more information in one character result in much shorter tweets, less frustration and more people tweeting.  

The majority of Japanese tweets are just 15 characters long - compared to 34 characters for tweets in English. Just 0.4% of Japanese tweets hit the 140 character limit, where 9% of English speakers hit the same number. 

"Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain," Ms Rosen wrote.

"Interestingly, this isn't a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all.

"But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare." 

Twitter's research showed that people who have more space to tweet were more likely to tweet. 

However, the longer limit of 280 characters is only being rolled out to a select few for a trial.

The social media platform is also prepared for backlash agains the change. 

"We understand... there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.

"Twitter is about brevity. It's what makes it such a great way to see what's happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change."

What do you think? Does increasing the limit take away the one thing that defined Twitter?  


Twitter, Social MediaKate Wilson