If Twitter is your medium of choice for social media, then be prepared, because your world is going to change forever. The social networking site, which is famous for its 140-character limit is planning on doubling this figure to 280 and has, in fact, already started testing the new super-sized tweets. Twitter is hoping that the big change will help Tweeple be more expressive on the platform.

Revealing the big news in an official company blogpost, Twitter said, “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English.” “When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 character and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!”


Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey further confirmed the news in one supersize tweet and gave us a glimpse of what is coming. He said, "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!"

According to Twitter, statistics reveal that about 9 percent of all tweets on their platform nowadays are exactly 140 characters. The social networking site considers that this can’t be a mere coincidence. The figure suggests that people have to consistently trim their thoughts in order to share them on Twitter. With this new change, the company wants to ease the burden of the 140-character limit hanging on their head as they want Twitter users to share their views/thoughts with all the words, emotions they want to use.

As of now, the 280-character limit is being tested with a small group of users. The limit will remain 140 characters in Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

According to Twitter statistics, while 9 percent of tweets in English are exactly 140 characters; in Japanese, only 0.4 percent of tweets max out on this limit. This vast difference in percentages hints towards the fact that hitting the limit because of language cramming is a major source of frustration for those tweeting in English.

The firm’s research further indicates that when people are given more space to express their thoughts, they tend to tweet more — and that's exactly Twitter is trying to achieve through its latest change. In July this year, it was reported Twitter’s U.S. monthly user base had declined to 68 million. In fact, when Twitter went public in 2013, its stock reached $69 a share in no time. But, unfortunately since then, it has been on a downward slope trajectory. As of yesterday afternoon, Twitter shares were trading at a sad $17 a share.

For the uninitiated, the 140-character limit was set by Twitter founders so as to keep it in tandem with the length of SMS messages, which was how tweets were being distributed prior to mobile apps came into picture. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters; Twitter decided to reserve the remaining 20 for the username.

This isn’t the first time that Twitter is considering increasing its word limit. In fact, in 2015, the company was considering moving closer to increasing the character limit to 10,000 characters. This change was being pitched simultaneously with a new ranked user timeline, which would show users the best tweets first. However, both the suggested changes ended up receiving flak within the company as people argued that 10,000-character tweets shown in a Facebook-style feed will make the platform confusing to users.

Last year, the company reached a compromise where it ended up dumping the 10,000-character tweets limit altogether, but it expanded tweets by not counting media attachments against the character limit. It also decided on an optional ranked timeline that displayed “the best tweets first,” followed by tweets in the standard reverse-chronological order.

While one can argue that the main attraction of Twitter was its character limit and how it pushed people to become more witty and creative with their words, the statistics revealed by Twitter shows that users have been wanting a change for quite some time. Let’s see how people react to the change when it goes live.

[Image:The Drum]

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