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Twitter Testing 280-Character Limit For Tweets $TWTR

Get ready for more information overload! Twitter is beta testing a 280-character limit among a “single-digit percentage” of its 328 million users who will be randomly chosen, according to the company – so, millions of people.

“Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English,” Twitter said in a blog post. “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!”

For an example of a 280 character tweet, see below:

Via WaPo:

The company declined to comment directly on how it’s choosing those people or why it changed its mind about its 140-character limit. But in a company blog post, product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said the team started looking into the restrictions of the 140-character limit after noticing differences among languages.

Some languages — specifically Chinese, Japanese and Korean — allow for greater expression in fewer characters, Rosen and Ihara said.

“We see that a small percent of tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese tweets are 15 characters while most English tweets are 34,” the post said.

The 280-character test will roll out in all languages except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Workarounds that worked

For Twitter users who need to say more than 140 characters will allow, common workarounds include posting an image of a longer text, and the use of “twitterstorms” – lengthy screeds which notify readers that there’s more to come with fractions, such as (1/12) to signal 12 incoming posts.

A 280 character limit will obviously cut that in half.

Removing a point of contention

While Twitter acknowledges that some users may have an emotional attachment to short tweets, the company notes that having to cram your thoughts into a few sentences may in fact be deterring people from tweeting.

“in all markets, 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!”

In other words, Twitter has found that removing this pain point — even if it means giving up something that has been core to its identity — can help it reach more people who will then use its product more. And, ultimately, that’s what Twitter has been seeking for years: a way to gain more users and to make its quirky ways easier to understand.

I know one guy who would be OK with a platform-wide increase:

Thoughts on the proposed change from around the Twitterverse: 


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  1. sarcrilege

    Perf4ct. 280 char tweets. Now ppl get more room to say more dumb things.

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  2. moonshot

    World changing. Finally tweets will be long enough to change the minds of those with different ideologies.

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  3. The Maven

    This is a disaster. Soon it will be another Facebook.

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