Twitter to permanently double the length of tweets after experiement

Screengrab via Timrasett  Internet Archive

Screengrab via Timrasett Internet Archive

It's official: After a brief test last month, Twitter is raising its iconic 140-character limit to 280. Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter. This follows a trial that started in late September, during which a select group of users had their character limits expanded from 140 to 280. Others just want an edit button already. Given the platform's struggle to attract new users in recent years, Twitter is likely hoping this move will help it overcome sluggish growth up its daily user count from the current 330 million.

According to Twitter, 9% of tweets in English hit the character limits.

Twitter says this often results in lots of time spent editing and, at times, abandoning tweets before sending. When it expanded the limit to 280, only 1 percent of tweets had this issue. The change won't apply to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages because the density of their writing allows users to say more with fewer characters.

But, Twitter said, while obnoxiously long messages weren't flooding users' timelines, the more verbose tweets did let people fire off messages faster and, the company believes, with less agonizing over each message. In most cases, it doesn't seem like most people are actually increasing the length of their tweets; we have apparently been trained well.

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"In addition to more Tweeting, people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement [likes, retweets and '@' mentions], got more followers and spent more time on Twitter", said Ms Rosen.

Users will see the change roll out over the next few days, Twitter said. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters.

"People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall", wrote Aliza Rosen, Twitter's product manager.

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