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China’s Weibo Beats Twitter to Lifting Character Limit

January 21, 2016, 6:42 PM UTC
Images of Weibo Corp. As Company Raises $285.6 Million In U.S. IPO
Sina Corp.'s Sina Weibo microblogging service app icon is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Weibo Corp., the Chinese microblogging service owned by Sina Corp. and Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., raised $285.6 million its U.S. initial public offering after pricing the shares at the low end of a marketed range, people with knowledge of the matter said. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chinese netizens are about to have a lot more to say.

Weibo, a popular social network in China, is lifting its 140-character limit for users’ posts, CEO Wang Gaofei told Xinhua. The platform, which is sort of like a souped-up Twitter used by 200 million Chinese microbloggers, will begin testing the lengthier posts among VIP users next week.

By the end of February, all users will be able to write posts as long as 2,000 characters, though only the first 140 will appear on users’ feeds.

Weibo made the decision to allow longer posts on its platform on the heels of rumors that Twitter is considering the same move. According to reports by Re/code, the platform is building a feature that will allow users to write posts as long as 10,000 characters when it is released at the end of the quarter. Twitter has not confirmed those reports, but its CEO Jack Dorsey did hint at the company’s plans in a tweet earlier this month:

Weibo has declined in popularity over the past few years: In 2013, the platform was approximately three times larger than it is now at 600 million.

Part of that decline can be attributed at least in part to the rise of the social messaging app WeChat. But others blame it on a spate of censorship laws China leveled at the platform, which has served as a petri dish for political dialogue.