In most of the world, the iconic 140-character tweet is now officially a thing of the past. Twitter said today that after a global test, 280-character tweets will roll out to users around the world. Longer tweets will now be the standard in every language where Twitter is available save for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, where the 140-character limit will still apply. (The company says Asian languages fit more thoughts into fewer characters; the average length of a tweet in Japanese is 15 characters.)
In a blog post, Twitter said the expanded character limit would allow for easier expression while retaining the brevity for which the service is known. With the previous limit in place, 9 percent of tweets hit 140 characters. But during the test of expanded tweets, only 1 percent of tweets hit 280 characters, Twitter said. “More space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before,” the company said in a blog post.
At the same time, expanding the character limit risks disrupting the fast-moving, real-time nature of the site, encouraging people users to post more expansive paragraphs where they once might just have posted a few words and a link. This could be especially true of Twitter’s large and noisy class of professional pundits, who live to explain the day’s events through voluminous threads.
Everyone I have discussed 280 with to date has brought up the president’s Twitter account, wondering how @realdonaldtrump will put the extra real estate to good use. Stay tuned, America!
But most people who had 280 characters during the test period didn’t use the added real estate, Twitter said. Only 5 percent of tweets sent during the test period exceeded 140 characters, the company said, and just 2 percent exceeded 190 characters. “Your timeline reading experience should not substantially change,” Twitter said. “You’ll still see about the same amount of tweets in your timeline.”
The test group felt better about their usage of Twitter overall, the company said. So now perhaps you, too, will feel good about using Twitter. Wouldn’t that be nice!