Is Twitter Changing Its Character Limit? It's Testing Out A Massive Update
Twitter has stuck by their 140-character limit since they launched in 2006, but according to a new announcement, that may all be changing. On Sept. 26, the company tweeted (fitting!) that they're toying with the idea of changing Twitter's character limit from 140 characters to 280, stating that the feature would only be available to a small group for now, and only for those who tweet in "languages impacted by cramming," aka all of them except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.
According to a blog post also released by Twitter, the reason for the change is actually pretty simple: Their research has brought them to the conclusion that people actually tweet more when they have leftover characters in their tweets, as opposed to when they have to struggle to fit their thoughts into 140 characters. "Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English... 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."
This is a huge move for the 11-year old company, who has basically built its identity on their 140-character limit. With it, users were encouraged to keep their thoughts brief and to the point — in fact, when there were rumors in 2016 that Twitter was toying with increasing their character count to 10,000 characters (everything after 140 would be put behind a "Read more..." button), its short, 140 character limit was praised by some for making users keep their tweets succinct.
That said, as the New York Times pointed out on Sept. 26 after the news broke, Twitter toying with this change isn't really a surprise: The company had been bound to shake things up soon, with investors growing nervous that the site wasn't attracting new users at the rate that it used to. As with all aging social media platforms, they needed something new to grab people's attention again — and a doubled character limit is certainly something that would do just that.
It's not clear who's involved in these character limit test groups (um, hi, Twitter Gods, if you're listening — pick me, please?), other than the fact that they'll only be users whose languages are impacted by character limits as aforementioned. Twitter has also been mum on when this doubled character limit will actually go site-wide any time soon, or if it even ever will.
This isn't the first time Twitter has expanded its character limit, in a way — in 2016, the company made it so that usernames, photo uploads, and links wouldn't count toward a tweet's character count, in order to extend the amount of space people would have to write their thoughts out as they tweet. That, of course, seemed like a more natural update to their character limit rules than doubling it does — but hey, I'm down for anything that allows me to stop writing "2day" instead of "today" because my tweet character count would be at "-1" otherwise.
Of course, it wouldn't be Twitter if tweets didn't have a major opinion on news of this new feature test. Many, including Christy Teigen, tweeted their thoughts on the news, with their reactions ranging from excited to scared of what this will mean for Donald Trump's Twitter feed.
(But seriously, can someone make sure Trump isn't in the test group for this new feature? I really don't think my brain can take 280 character tweets from him, when it can barely take 140 character tweets. There is only so much this country can handle. Please, give us something.)
No word yet on when the feature will start rolling out to test groups.