On Tuesday, Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey revealed a new tweak to his social media website, one that stirred up a whole lot of reaction and controversy. Namely, he teased the possibility of Twitter's character limit doubling, from the tried and true 140 characters all the way to 280 characters. According to Dorsey (who tweets under the username @jack), select Twitter accounts have been upgraded to test out the 280-character limit. But according to co-founder Biz Stone, President Donald Trump isn't getting 280 characters per tweet ― not for now, at least.
It comes as no surprise that the first thing many people wondered was how this change might impact the president of the United States' tweeting habits. In recent months, liberals and progressives have increasingly called on Twitter to ban Trump's account, citing his vitriolic threats against North Korea, in particular, as making the country and the world demonstrably less safe. Twitter has resisted these calls, however, with Stone himself arguing that the "newsworthiness" of Trump's tweets justify him staying on the social media platform.
At least for Twitter's first foray into 280-character tweets, however, he won't be included in the opening round of test accounts, as Stone confirmed on Tuesday afternoon in a tweet.
This does not, however, mean that Trump won't eventually get the doubled character limit, because this is ostensibly a test period that could lead to the change being given the everyone's accounts. If it ever goes live site-wide, presumably that would be true for Trump too, meaning the president would have twice the characters to attack his critics, say, or to engage in racial demagoguery, or to lob threats at the despotic leader of a hostile, nuclear-armed state.
In short, from the perspective of someone who's concerned about the potentially grave or destructive impact of giving the president more space to vent, whether or not Trump is in the test group is probably less relevant than whether the change is ever permanently adopted. Mauricio Mota, who tweeted at Stone asking him about Trump's character limit, for example, did not seem thrilled with the Twitter co-founder's short, non-expansive response.
Beyond simply the question of how many characters Trump will end up with, however, plenty of people reacted with shock and derision when the new character limit test was announced. Simply put, if you've been an even remotely regular user of Twitter over the past several years, you get accustomed to just how much space a tweet takes up, an aesthetic familiarity that's strikingly abandoned by doubling the character limit.
Take, for example, Dorsey's tweet unveiling the new testing period for the 280-character limit. Many people commented that it was so long they didn't even read all the way through, and from the simple standpoint of how it looks, well, it looks pretty overstuffed.
From a simple visual standpoint, that almost more resembles the beginning of a Facebook post than what tweets have typically looked like in the past. The upshot is that if and when Trump finally gets ahold of an updated Twitter client with double the space, he'll have a lot more room to stretch his metaphorical legs out.
Of course, it's not as if Twitter even constrained the number of tweets a user could send. In the meaningful sense, Trump being able to jam more letters into a single tweet isn't terribly different from him spreading them out across multiple tweets. But if there's anything that's obvious from the initial response to Twitter's announcement, it's that many people are skeptical. To say nothing of the people who're more interested in other tweaks and changes to the system, like enforcing rules on harassing and abusive tweets, rather than simply boosting the length of the average tweet.