Twitter has doubled the character limit from the standard 140 characters per tweet to 280 characters for a small group of users.
According to a blog post by Twitter, the current character limit has been a “major cause of frustration” for some of its users.
Twitter acknowledged that “trying to cram your all your thoughts in a tweet” can be a pain, but noted that the amount of information a user can convey in just 140 characters differs per language. A tweet in Japanese can express a lot more in just 140 characters than a 140 character tweet in English.
Aliza Rosen, Product Manager at Twitter, said:
“Interestingly, this isn’t a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits.
“Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku [Twitter’s Senior Software Engineer] Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare.
“This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.”
Twitter wants every person around the world to “easily express themselves” on the platform, and is testing out a longer limit, of 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming – which excludes Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.
The company revealed that only 0.4% of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters, while 9% of Tweets in English reach the character limit. “Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34,” the firm revealed.
“Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone. What matters most is that this works for our community – we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet.”
Selina Wang at Bloomberg Technology noted that a lot of Twitter users consider the 140 character limit to be the “defining characteristic of the platform”, adding that there’s been a notable amount of backlash regarding the change.
However, she added that making it easier to send tweets without having to condense the message into just 140 characters could help boost usage of the platform.