Twitter tests doubling the length of tweets to 280 characters

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Twitter has started a test to double the length of tweets to 280 characters, the company announced on Tuesday.

simone puorto consulting - twitter

If Twitter does opt to officially adopt 280 characters as the new maximum length, it would mark the biggest change to the social network since its founding in 2006 and the biggest big bet yet by the company to increase its user base.

Beginning today, people may start to see these twice-as-long tweets in their Twitter feeds, though the option to post 280-character tweets will be limited to “a small group” during the the testing phase.

The test will span all languages except Chinese, Japanese and Korean, because in those three languages, a single character can communicate twice as much information as a character in other languages, per the blog post.

Character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese, for example.

Twitter’s 140-character limit was originally imposed to approximate the length of a text message and make the social network more inviting to people to post thoughts on the fly from their phones. 

But what was meant to mitigate confusion has elicited frustration over the past decade. Apparently, people do not like to be edited. As a result, they have opted for loopholes, like taking screenshots of longer texts typed in their phone’s note-taking app and posting them as photos to Twitter or stringing together multiple tweets into a thread, or “tweetstorm.” Or they have chosen not to use Twitter altogether, contributing to the company’s struggle to grow its audience, which had begun to abate but is stagnating again.

By relaxing the maximum length of a tweet, Twitter would hope to make itself more inviting to people previously frustrated by its forced brevity but could risk alienating others for whom that brevity makes their feeds more easily scannable.