Yesterday, Twitter announced via its official blog that it’s testing an increased character limit of 280 on a “small group” of users.
Up from 140, the new character limit is being observed with the possibility of a roll-out across the platform. By why now, when we’ve all been harshly editing our posts and contracting our ‘cannots’ and ‘will nots’ since 2006?
Since Twitter’s launch, its users have either grown accustomed to conveying their thoughts succinctly, or have simply developed a chain-tweeting habit, running on thoughts from one tweet to the next.
But yesterday, the social media platform accepted that sometimes 140 characters simply isn’t enough. Product Manager Aliza Rosen wrote: “Trying to cram your thoughts into a tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain.”
The reason for the increased limit is centred around languages, as in, for some it’s easy to convey a message in much fewer characters than in others. Twitter reckoned that those tweeting in Japanese, Korean and Chinese languages can convey around double the information per character, due to each symbol having its own unique meaning. This infers that those tweeting in other languages are missing out.
But does forced concision really have an effect on users? Twitter thinks so, affirming that markets who aren’t suffering with cramped tweeting conditions – Korea, China and Japan – are in fact tweeting more than others. For this reason, testing is not being conducted in these markets and there are no plans to increase the character limit.
To level the posting field, Twitter compared the lengths of Japanese tweets with those written in English. It found that most tweets in Japanese have 15 characters, whilst most in English have 34. It also highlighted that only 0.4 per cent of tweets in Japanese reach the 140-character limit, but nine per cent of all tweets in English are maxing out the characters.
That’s a huge amount of people who are, perhaps, under-expressing themselves, and Twitter is not happy about this. “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter,” the blog stated. And so, off the good folk at Twitter went, gleefully doubling its character servings for the chosen few.
So, will extra characters soon be bestowed upon us all?
Twitter plans to monitor the small test group, with the hope that fewer tweets hit the limit. It wants to see that the increased character count is making things easier for users, and promises to keep us posted.
But, it certainly looks that way.
While the increase will relieve those tweeters who are forced to dramatically edit down their thoughts, risking a loss of meaning to their messages, we think that being short and sweet is still important. Users are accustomed to engaging with short bursts of snappy content and less can indeed be more. Quantity should definitely not be to the detriment of quality content.