The world of social media continues to evolve as Twitter announced it will be doubling the length of its social messaging service from 140 to 280 characters.
Following a two-month trial that started in September, Twitter is opening the feature to all users from Tuesday. The decision to make such a dramatic change to the platform was made because the testing period showed minimal impact on existing users, the vast majority of which kept their messages within 140 characters. Concerns that extending the limit would clog up user’s timelines proved unfounded, and Twitter’s 330 million active users will now have an extra 140 characters to play with.
The trial period was introduced because users felt limited by the existing character count and were repeatedly forced to edit messages before sending, an inconvenience that pushed some users away, and discouraged others from joining.
In a recent blog post, Twitter’s product manager, Aliza Rosen, stated that only 5% of tweets exceeded 140 characters during the testing period. She added that users who exceeded the previous limit saw greater engagement on their posts, gained more followers, and spent longer on the platform.
These changes will apply to all languages, with the exception of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean as these languages can pack more information into individual characters, and the change was deemed unnecessary.
Twitter hopes the change will open up the platform to new users who previously felt restricted by the 140 characters, and who have been growing disenchanted with rival social media companies. It is also expected to boost the company’s advertising revenue which has stagnated of late, due to the limited character count. The changes have not been immediately rolled out on Twitter’s advertising platform, but this will follow over the coming months.
While the change will be of huge benefit to advertisers, many users have been quick to criticise the change and have suggested development efforts should first have been directed to other issues with the platform, such as the growing amount of hate crime on the site, opening up greater control over a user’s timeline, or the long wished for ability to edit tweets (something Donald Trump would have appreciated with his legendary “covfefe” tweet.)
Ultimately, the biggest gripe will be about the transformation of Twitter’s primary feature, it’s brevity, which for the past decade has forced users into articulating their thoughts with clever wordplay and imaginative shorthand, and led to the development of a unique online language spoken around the online world.