Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters? 🤔— Twitter (@Twitter) September 26, 2017
We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280! Excited about the possibilities? Read our blog to find out how it all adds up. 👇https://t.co/C6hjsB9nbL
For years we've been hearing whispers that Twitter might, maybe, let go of its longstanding 140-character limit. It may have been an arbitrary thing when the company got its start just over a decade ago, but it's become something of a signature, forcing the long-winded and abbreviation-inclined both to practice brevity. But now a product manager at Twitter reveals in a blog post that they're rolling out a test run of a 280-character limit for languages like English where 140 characters may be cramping our style justifying this by showing how character-based languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese can actually say a lot more in 140 characters than we can, often with "room to spare."
"We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter," says Twitter's Aliza Rosen. But, she explains, they're not yet ready for a full roll-out. "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."
Rosen cites data that shows the average tweet in Japanese is 15 characters while in English it's typically 34 characters, more than twice that. Also, only a tiny fraction (0.04%) of Japanese tweets hit the 140-character limit, while nearly 10 percent of English tweets are getting "crammed."
This test, which is already roiling the Twitterati and spurring all kinds of jokes about brevity even Twitter itself had to issue a statement split across six tweets last night, regarding Trump and why they're not banning him yet comes after several rumors and tweaks by Twitter to update its signature limiting feature. A rumor went around early last year that they were testing a "see more" type feature that would have a 10,000 character limit. Then in May of last year they updated the character count to exclude links and photos, allowing for slightly more wiggle room, word-wise.
CEO Jack Dorsey's statement, in 280 characters:
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! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Late last year, Dorsey suggested that updates to Twitter's service could be coming this year, though at the time the top priority seemed to be some kind of edit capability perhaps a time-limited one, or one that indicates an edit as on Facebook. Looks like the character-limit thing is pushed to the head of the line.
It's unclear who the lucky few are, besides Dorsey, who are getting to expand their Twitter repertoire to 280-character quips, but there are some of them out there, and Rosen says the company wants to be "transparent about why we are excited to try this."
Below, a selection of reactions:
The 280-character limit is a terrible idea. The whole beauty of Twitter is that it forces you to express your ideas concisely (1/47)— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 26, 2017
I agree, here is why 1/74— Shaun Griswold (@shaun505) September 26, 2017
280 characters?! Holy shit if I could go back and edit all of my past tweets that cut off right before I reached what I actually wanted to s— michael popcorn (@Michael5SOS) September 26, 2017
is 280 characters a novella?— Melville House (@melvillehouse) September 26, 2017
Story with 280 characters. pic.twitter.com/0XmIqRAr3N— Bruce Feiler (@BruceFeiler) September 26, 2017
OH HOLY SHIT. I figured out what we should do with the new 140 characters.— austin walker (@austin_walker) September 26, 2017
´•._.•´¯`•._.•´Forum Signatures Are Back Baby`•._.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´
Good news everyone! We won't do anything to stop racists, Nazis, or nuclear-actual-fucking-war, but some people get 280 characters! https://t.co/Av8e6lC2G5— Cassandra (@ChrisWarcraft) September 26, 2017
280 CHARACTERS WHAT IS THIS THE 4TH SEASON OF BATTLESTAR?— Teddy Dief (@TeddyDief) September 26, 2017
280 characters: Twitter's effort to make itself twice as bad as it already is.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 26, 2017