Knowing that Twitter limits users to 140-character posts has always been equal parts joy and frustration: Joy in knowing that some people on the social media site can’t get too long winded, and frustration in our own inability to express what we’re really thinking in a limited space.
Now, for the first time, Twitter is raising the limit, as it announced Tuesday that some people will gain access to 280 characters.
Twitter users seemed split on their reaction to the change.
Brevity is the soul of Twitter. Keep it 140.
— Anthony De Rosa ? (@Anthony) September 26, 2017
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 will say this tho: For all that twitter has eaten my brain, the 140-character limit made me a staggeringly more efficient thinker & writer
— Helen Rosner (@hels) September 26, 2017
Now we'll get 280 character death threats instead of 140 character death threats. Twitter, tackle the real problems.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) September 26, 2017
Close your eyes.
Imagine Trump using Twitter.
Now imagine Trump using Twitter with 280 characters.
Now close Twitter.
— M.G. Siegler (@mgsiegler) September 26, 2017
In a blog post, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen explained that the decision was based on the fact that character count is not equal in all languages.
“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,” Rosen wrote.
Rosen used tweets in Japanese to further drive home the point, writing that only 0.4 percent of tweets in that language reach 140 characters, while 9 percent of tweets written in English reach reach 140.
“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 wrote. “What matters most is that this works for our community — we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to tweet.”
Twitter previously stopped counting @usernames and media file links toward character counts.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is obviously one of the folks who gets to test drive the new limit. And on Tuesday he tweeted a 280-character reaction, calling it a small change, but a big move and saying brevity and speed will always be maintained at the 11-year-old service.
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
Some thought he could have sent his message in fewer than 280 characters.
This certainly marks a new era for Twitter, which launched back in 2006.