A massive change may be coming soon to Twitter, as the social media platform revealed that it has started testing a 280-character limit for tweets.
There are various reasons for why Twitter is considering to abolish the long-standing 140-character limit for tweets, but all of them trace back to the social network's ultimate goal of inviting more people to create accounts and increasing usage.
Twitter May Soon Double Tweet Character Limit
Twitter, through an official blog post, revealed that it has started testing a longer limit of 280 characters with a small group of users who speak in languages that often lead to crammed tweets.
According to data presented in the blog post, 9 percent of tweets in English hit the 140-character limit, which likely means that these users had to delete or change some words to make their tweets fit. Twitter looks to eliminate this problem by giving users more space to write their thoughts.
The longer character limit, however, will not be applied to a handful of languages, namely Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. This is because users speaking these languages can convey much more information in a single character compared to other languages. To illustrate, tweets in Japanese only reach 140 characters 0.4 percent of the time. Most tweets in English have 34 characters, while most tweets in Japanese only have 15 characters.
Will Twitter Really Do It?
The 140-character limit for tweets has been the defining feature of Twitter. The figure has been tweaked a few times, such as when "@ replies" were dropped from the character count, but it has largely remained over the social network's 11-year history.
Is Twitter really going to make the change and double the limit of tweets to 280 characters just to give more space to the 9 percent of tweets that use up the current limit? With testing ongoing, it appears that the social media platform is heading toward making such a move.
In the blog post, Twitter noted that more people tweet in markets where they don't have a 140-character limit, which is the driving force behind abolishing it. Twitter has suffered from low user growth and engagement, and the company apparently thinks that doubling the limit to 280 characters will help solve those problems.
Twitter initially decided with a 140-character limit to mirror the length of SMS messages, which can contain a maximum of 160 characters. The remaining 20 characters were reserved for usernames. However, it appears that Twitter is now willing to move on in the quest for more users and engagement, following up on other initiatives such as a Twitter Lite app for Android and a tweetstorm feature.