Twitter Could Soon Expand to 280-Character Limits
The anxiety that Twitter users feel when nearing the 140-character limit on their posts may be coming to an end soon. The social media service said on Tuesday it will start testing an expanded 280-character limit to give users more space to tweet about everything from the latest political news to #NationalPancakeDay.
Twitter announced that the test would start with small groups of users in various languages including English. In a blog post, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said that the test would, however, be unavailable in languages like Japanese in which expressing longer sentiments in fewer characters is easier.
“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” Rosen and Ihara said in the blog post. The blog post authors even noted that only 0.4% of tweets sent in Japanese use the whole 140-character limit, compared to 9% of English tweets.
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Twitter users frequently complain about the relatively limited amount of space available for each tweet, and there have been calls for expansion for years. Last year, Twitter reportedly considered expanding to a 10,000-character limit, which could have dramatically changed the way people use the service, but that idea was ultimately abandoned. Then, last September, Twitter unveiled a new feature that makes it easier to avoid exceeding the 140-character limit by no longer counting certain additional media against that total, including photos, videos, GIFs, and polls.
“Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening,” the company said in the blog post on Tuesday.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey called the tests “a big move for us” in a tweet on Tuesday:
Many Twitter users try to work around the 140-character limit by posting their more verbose thoughts in a series of tweets, called “threads” or “tweet storms,” with each subsequent tweet a “reply” to the previous post. Earlier this month, Twitter started testing a feature that allows users to pre-write a series of tweets and then post them all at once as a thread.
All of these tests and new features are examples of Twitter trying to make its service more user-friendly, as the company tries to battle disappointing user growth that has weighed down the company’s share price (TWTR). Twitter’s latest character limit test also comes at a time when the company is facing criticism over its efforts to cut down on the amount of offensive content, including hate speech, that is posted on the service.
On Tuesday, Twitter’s global public policy team even posted a series of messages defending the service’s policy to allow President Donald Trump to tweet messages that might otherwise violate Twitter’s terms of service—including recent messages that appeared to threaten violence against North Korean leaders. The company described the president’s tweets as “newsworthy,” suggesting that Trump is not in danger of being banned from the site.