When Twitter first ran a rest for some users, only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters.

140-character limit for tweets no more Twitter doubles character limit for all users
Atom Social Media Wednesday, November 08, 2017 - 11:21

The 140-character limit that has been around since 2006 and became part of Twitter's personality on Wednesday paved the way for a new 280-character limit that is now available virtually for all users -- including for those who tweet in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.

In September, Twitter launched a test with a select group of users that expanded the 140-character limit so that they could express themselves easily in a tweet.

"Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter. 

"Looking at all the data, we're excited to share we've achieved this goal and are rolling the change out to all languages where cramming was an issue," the micro-blogging platform said in a blog post on Wednesday.

During the first few days of the test, many people tweeted the full 280-limit because it was new and novel but soon after, the behaviour normalised.

"We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained," said Aliza Rosen, Product Manager, Twitter.

Only five per cent of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only two per cent were over 190 characters.

In addition to more tweeting, people who had more room to tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers and spent more time on Twitter during the experiment.

"Japanese, Korean and Chinese will continue to have 140 characters because cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their tweets because of the density of their writing systems," the post said.

The average length of a tweet in Japanese is 15 characters, and only 0.4 per cent of tweets hit the 140-character limit.

But in English, a much higher percentage of tweets have 140 characters (nine per cent). Most Japanese tweets are 15 characters while most English tweets are 34.

Twitterati were joyous.

"I think it's brilliant that 280 UI replaces the old character count with a graphic of a circle filling up. It removes the precision of the count. It feels casual. There's less pressure. You just write. This is so great. It's endless. 280 is perfect. It's really fun," posted Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist at The New York Times.

According to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, this is a small change but a big move for them.

"The 140 limit was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And, at the same time, maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence!" Dorsey had tweeted during the time of trial.

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