Twitter announced Tuesday it is testing doubling the length of its tweets to 280 characters. The move to double the micro-blogging site’s defining 140-character limit for the first time is being tested with a small group of randomly selected users before eventually rolling out to everyone.
Twitter Doubling It’s 140-Character Limit for Tweets
“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara wrote in an official blog post announcing the change.
Although the site is describing this move as a test, the writing is on the wall. Twitter’s 140-character limit is dying. The company is rolling out the change gradually because there are users who have a strong emotional attachment to 140 characters, and it doesn’t want to alienate this group of hardcore users.
"Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone," the 11-year-old company explained. "What matters most is that this works for our community—we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We're hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet."
140 (left) and 280 (right) character Tweets in the timeline.
Twitter’s Succinct Art Form Will Be Missed
Twitter’s succinct art form characterized by 140-character limit was appreciated by users like journalists, publishers and brands that will miss its insistence on wit and getting to the point. The constraint forced users to condense their thoughts into only the most essential words.
"140 characters isn't any easy construct, but that's exactly why I love it," Jill Sherman, head of social strategy at DigitasLBi, says. "People and brands are forced to stop and think about what they really want to say. And it makes the feed pithy and easily scannable. I'll definitely miss it."
However, as Rosen and Ihara stress, the 140-character limit was "a major cause of frustration" for some users. "Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet - we've all been there, and it's a pain," they wrote. But the two add they’ve tried the 280-character limit, seen the power of what it will do, and love the new, still brief constraint.
“This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit,” Twitter's founder Jack Dorsey said in a tweet. “Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence!”
Twitter hopes increasing the character limit for tweets will bring reprieve from the firms’ slowing growth, and the shift could be one way for the company to widen its appeal and attract new users.
Image via Pixabay.