Gird Your Loins: Twitter Is Giving Everyone 280 Characters

Delia Watkins
November 8, 2017

Twitter says it's ending its iconic 140-character limit - and giving almost everyone 280 characters.

The new limit will not apply to tweets written in Japanese, Chinese and Korean which can convey more information in a single character. It became a hallmark of the service - an encouragement to craft short, sweet messages and contribute to the free-flow of conversation that became Twitter's main identifying feature.

Numerous concerns about 280 characters from Twitter users revolved around bloated timelines and a decline in the UX. Others just want an edit button already. After awhile, we'll stop noticing long tweets in our newsfeeds (unless they keep getting bounced to the top, in case we missed them), but right now, Twitter is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way with this move.

It says during the test many people tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after this people's behaviour normalised.

As it notes about the initial launch of the 280 character limit testing, Twitter says there will be another spike of users tweeting longer tweets initially, but that it will level off quickly.

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At present, the character-limitation encourages "threads", where multiple tweets are linked to form the equivalent of a blog post.

Before the tests - which were limited to a few users, but easy to participate in thanks to third-party tools - roughly 9 percent of tweets ran right up against the 140-character limit.

Of course, the change means America's highest-profile Twitter user, President Trump, will have more space. Twitter's Aliza Rose explained, "Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer".

"People did silly (creative!) things like writing 1 character per line to make their Tweets extra large".

"We - and many of you - were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space", said Rozen.

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