Tech Thursday: Twitter has just super-sized its character limit

Cramming your thoughts into a 140 character limit can sometimes be a challenge, yet so many have adapted to this bite sized way of posting. Twitter announced today that they will be testing 280-character tweets to allow users to be able to express more.

This comes after many people over the years have complained over the limited characters they have to tweet. A lot of users would normally post multiple tweets that express one train of thought but that will soon be over. Twitter is hoping to ease the burden of the character limit on certain languages like English, French, Spanish etc. Surprisingly enough, other languages like Japanese, Chinese, and Korean are not affected by the 140 character limit because of the nature of their written language.

These languages are able to put more thoughts into fewer characters.

Twitter spoke of this problem in a blog post:

“For example, when I (Aliza) tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thoughts and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.”

The social media application said that they want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, and thus are trying something new.

“Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this. Here are some of our findings.

  • A small percent of tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%).
  • In English, a much higher percentage of tweets have 140 characters (9%).
  • Most Japanese tweets are 15 characters while most English tweets are 34.
  • Twitter research shows that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English, but it is not for those tweeting in Japanese.
  • In all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, more people tweet.

This is an experiment on a small group of Twitter users and should it work, it might be a regular feature on the social media app.

Here is what 140 (left) and 280 (right) character Tweets look like in a timeline.

Some users are critical of increasing the character limit and demonstrated that they could easily work within the 140 characters limit:


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