Twitter Tests 280 Character Limit For Tweets

Twitter has increased the 140-character limit for posts for the first time in its history.

The social network is allowing a number of its users to test a new 280 limit, claiming the previous restriction meant speakers of some languages were constrained when compared to others.

For example, only 0.4 percent of Tweets in Japanese are 140 characters in length compared to nine percent in English. The average Japanese Tweet is 15 characters long, while the English figure is 34.

Twitter character limit

“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,” said Aliza Rosen, Twitter Product Manager.

“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 thought 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.”

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While Twitter has experimented with a number of new features that have drastically changed the experience, such as quoted Tweets, threads and images that don’t count towards the limit of a post, the 140 limit has remained sacrosanct.

The same constraint on Direct Messages was lifted in 2015 however.

Twitter said that although there might be an “emotional constraint” to the old limit, it is not worried that longer posts will damage the appeal of the platform.

“This is a small change, but a big move for us,” said CEO Jack Dorsey. “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!”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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