Twitter users have often long felt that the 140-character limit could be expanded a little more, and it seems like the micro-blogging site has finally heard them. On Tuesday, the company said it is now testing 280-character tweets, allowing users to be more expressive.
In a blog post, Twitter said, “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English. When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!”
Some might wonder what took Twitter 11 years to decide that people need more than 140 characters to express themselves. One reason could be that the company did not want to alienate those who had already adapted to the format and are happy with it. Another reason why Twitter is extending the character limit is to bring equity to the languages that need more space to convey a phrase.
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“In languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French,” the micro-blogging firm said.
Further, the company noted that the character limit is a major drawback for those not tweeting in English. Twitter explained this with the help of an illustration, saying that less than 1% of all tweets in Japanese hit 140 characters, compared to 9% in English.
However, for now, only a few randomly selected people will get to test the 240-character limit extension. The company has not given any timeline when the feature will roll out to all users. Internally, Twitter has reportedly been testing the extended length with some product groups.
In the past also, there have been reports of Twitter planning to raise the character limit. Last year, responding to the reports that Twitter was toying with the idea of a 10,000-character limit for tweets, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that 140 characters was a “beautiful constraint,” and the company would never lose that feeling. Although the company isn’t expanding the limit to 10,000, it is definitely looking at more than 140 characters.
A funny but expected reaction to this latest development was that users started wondering how Twitter’s decision to extend the word limit would be reflected in tweets from President Donald Trump. Trump has used the platform actively, while ignoring the mainstream media, stating that they are biased against him. More often than not, Trump’s tweets have not gone down well with his 40 million followers, both in the United States and globally.
By increasing the character limit, the company will be hoping to attract more users, a problem with which it has been grappling for a long time. Twitter with its user base of 328 million users has been looking to compete with Facebook and Instagram with 2 billion and 700 million users, respectively. For the first and second quarter of this year, Twitter’s monthly active user growth was flat. Investors also punished the company’s stock, bringing it down to $16 from $23.05 a year ago.
On Tuesday, Twitter shares closed down 2.3% at $16.59. Year to date, the stock is up almost 2%.