Twitter said on Tuesday that it will roll out its new 280 character limit to users in most countries, which means more room for social media users to tweet about everything from Election Day results to the latest Taylor Swift news.
The social media service started testing posts that extended beyond its original 140 character limit in September, with only a small group of users. At the time, Twitter said it was testing the new feature in various languages, including English, in which users were more likely to run out of space. (According to Twitter, the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese languages are able to convey more with fewer characters than other languages, so users who tweet in those three languages will keep the 140 character limit.)
“In September, we launched a test that expanded the 140 character limit so every person around the world could express themselves easily in a Tweet,” Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen wrote in a blog post. “Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter.”
The two-month test of a higher character limit caused some controversy, with some Twitter users complaining that longer tweets could upset the flow of their newsfeeds (while others griped that Twitter should focus more on addressing other problems, such as online harassment and misinformation). But, the company said on Tuesday its tests revealed that the 280 character limit did not detract from the service, for the most part. While people who were given 280 characters initially posted longer tweets, Twitter said that “behavior normalized” relatively quickly.
“We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained,” Rosen wrote.
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According to Twitter, among the small group of users who experimented with the 280 character limit since September, only 5% of tweets posted exceeded 140 characters, while only 2% were more than 190 characters. One percent of those users reached the 280 character limit during the test period, compared to 9% of users reaching the traditional limit when afforded 140 characters.
Twitter’s ultimate goal is to make its service more user-friendly, as the company continues to face questions about its ability to post stronger user growth, generate more revenue, and better compete with larger rivals like Facebook.