Twitter Doubles Down on Character Limit

Twitter doubles up tweets to 280 characters

Twitter is doubling the character limit for tweets, giving users twice as much to complain about.

The microblogging platform has traditionally used a 140-character limit for tweets, but the company described this as ‘arbitrary’ and inconvenient.

The new word limit will be increased to 280 – a non-arbitrary, nice round number, I’m sure we can all agree.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, called the changes “exciting”, but acknowledged it may take some getting used to.

“There may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters” he said “but we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with the new, still brief, constraint.”

Turning Japanese

A study carried out by the San Francisco-based tech giant compared English and Japanese tweets, and showed English speakers used far more text on average.

“Most Japanese tweets are 15 characters, while most English tweets are 34,” said an official Twitter blog, explaining the change.

“Our research shows us the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English, but not for those tweeting in Japanese.”

This prompted Twitter to increase the word limit, giving English speakers the same freedom enjoyed elsewhere.

Users are being randomly selected for the rollout, so if you’re a Twitter obsessive, keep an eye out, you may be one of the chosen few.

Say what you will

The move will no doubt alleviate the agony of many Twitter users who fall foul of the character limit and have to compromise their otherwise perfect rant about Donald Trump.

Originally, the word limit was intended to mirror the 160 character limit of SMS messages, including space for a username.

The new character limit has apparently been in the offing for some time and the company has even considered raising it to 10,000, as revealed in 2015.

A number of changes have taken place on the website over the past 12 months. Perhaps the most significant is that media attachments now no longer take away from your character limit.

Beyond Twitter there have long been a range of workarounds for people wanting to tweet in more detail.

Services such as TwitLonger allow you to write lengthier messages which can then be linked to from your Twitter account.

The new character limit will be rolled out to all users over the coming weeks.

If you just can’t wait that long, it’s also possible to create your own custom scripts in Google Chrome to enable 280-character tweets before they officially go live.


Aran is a technology journalist with an interest in consumer issues.
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