At some point in time, every Twitter user has wished, debated and complained about the 140-character limit on tweets.
Well, the defining characteristic of Twitter is about to get redefined.
In a recent tweet by co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter is currently experimenting to extend its character limit from 140 to 280.
“This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160-character SMS limit. 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!” he wrote — all in one supersized tweet.
The increase is “only available to a small group right now,” Twitter says. The company is going to evaluate the results from this trial before deciding whether to expand the character limit for all users.
Twitter is aiming to increase the character limit for all languages except Chinese, Japanese and Korean. This is because in those languages you can convey about double the amount of information in one character, as compared to other languages.
“Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English, but it is not for those tweeting in Japanese,” the company said.
According to a blog post by Twitter’s Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara, statistics suggest that nine percent of English tweets use the 140 character length, while less than one percent of Japanese tweets are that long. This suggests that doubling the character limit will allow English-language users to express themselves through their tweets comfortably.
In an era when people have taken to all kinds of social media platforms to express themselves as explicitly as possible without any character limit restriction, Twitter redefined this attitude by making brevity its niche. We hope that by increasing the character length Twitter doesn’t challenge its own niche.