Twitter: 140 to 280 characters

Historically, Twitter has always been known for its 140 character limit and its focus on brevity. In the past, this has meant that users of the popular social media site have had to demonstrate creativity to ensure their thoughts can be communicated within the parameters. For many users, Twitter’s brevity has ensured that their news feed remains unclogged and easy to read. In September however, Twitter trialed expanding the character limit to 280, providing users with much more space to communicate their thoughts. And now, Twitter has announced that this extension will be rolled out permanently to all users.

These long-form tweets are now the standard in every language where Twitter is available, except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean, where the 140-character limit will still apply.

Why the change?

Twitter believes that the expanded character limit will allow for easier expression whilst maintaining the brevity Twitter is known for. Twitter has been concerned that the process of tweeting is made unnecessarily complicated by the short character limit. Drawing on its research, Twitter explained that 9% of tweets in English would hit the 140 character limit, but during their trial, only 1% of tweets matched 280 characters. In fact, most tweets remained 140 or below. And so, Twitter believes the new extended allowance will provide users with the chance to express themselves, whilst not having to be concerned by the strict limit. As a result, it believes the process will be sped up and users will be more inclined to tweet.

Much of the animosity towards the change has come from users worried their feed will be too busy, clogged by large tweets. Twitter however, is not concerned, writing in a blog post:

Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline.

What are your thoughts about Twitter’s character extension?