Twitter’s character limit is a holdover from the app’s early days when tweets were sent as texts, which were limited to 160 characters. It has since become one of the product’s most defining characteristics.
The company explained its decision to expand the limit in a blog post Tuesday, claiming that there are times the limit forces people to “remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion,” or keeps people from tweeting altogether.
“When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting,” the company wrote.
Which explains why Twitter is finally testing an expanded character limit: It hopes more space will mean more tweets.
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From the Twitter Blog:
We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).
Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this.
We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34. Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese. Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting – which is awesome!
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. 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.
Read the Twitter Blog Post