Twitter’s new 280-character restrict raises questions


When you consider Twitter, a couple of points pop up: nonstop harbadment, Russian propaganda and a president threatening potential nuclear warfare.

So why is the corporate targeted on doubling its character depend for tweets to 280 characters from its unique 140?

That’s the query the corporate is prone to encounter — regardless of some doable fanfare — after saying Tuesday it’s formally doubling its signature 140-character restrict for all customers following a “successful” trial run in September with choose customers.

Here’s an instance of a 140-character tweet (left) and a 280-character tweet (proper) as they seem in a Twitter timeline.


“We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn’t easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback,” Twitter product supervisor Aliza Rosen wrote in a weblog submit

Most folks ought to mechanically see the 280-character function. If not, they’ll replace their cellular app or refresh on their computer systems. People tweeting in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will stay on the 140 character restrict for now.

The transfer comes at a clumsy time for Twitter, which has been dealing with criticism and stress from shareholders, Congress, President Donald Trump and on a regular basis individuals who use it. Among the most-discussed complaints have been issues that the corporate negligently mishandled the every day harbadment some folks expertise on its service and that it allowed propaganda on the platform that illegally influenced the 2016 presidential election.

It’s most likely no shock that the corporate’s person depend has stalled at 330 million accounts, and that is after Twitter admitted to having overcounted person numbers for 3 years.

Concerns about Russian interference within the US election led congressional leaders to grill Facebook, Google and Twitter on the small print of how that meddling occurred and what the tech giants are doing to cease it. Fearing federal regulation, the businesses have vowed to make modifications.   

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Twitter doubles its restrict to 280 characters


So, once more, what does 280 characters must do with all this? The announcement may briefly divert unfavorable consideration from bigger issues, mentioned Kelley Heider, a disaster communications knowledgeable at SSPR, a public relations agency that usually works with tech firms.

“They change their narrative in the news cycle by responding to user feedback,” she mentioned.

But there are potential pitfalls to the brand new character depend, Heider added, notably if folks use the better size to submit much more inflammatory tweets.

“It might be fairly attention-grabbing to see what President Trump does with it, for positive,” she mentioned.

For years, Twitter has toyed with the notion of fixing its 140-character rule, which was established across the time the corporate was created in 2006.

Twitter says traditionally 9 % of tweets in English hit the 140-character restrict, however the quantity falls to 1 % when 280 characters can be found.


In the previous two years, Twitter has ditched the restrict when folks ship direct messages to at least one one other. It’s additionally relaxed limitations on pictures, movies and GIFs, and replies to different customers. The firm mentioned Tuesday that traditionally about 9 % of tweets in English hit the 140-character restrict. When the 280-character trial run started, the quantity dropped to 1 %.   

Many customers tweeted to the total 280-character restrict as a result of it was “new and novel,” Twitter’s Rosen wrote in her weblog submit. Once the novelty wore off, she mentioned, about 5 % of tweets despatched had been longer than 140 characters and solely 2 % had been over 190 characters.

Users who had extra room to tweet obtained extra followers, retweets, likes and mentions, she added.

When the 280-character trial started, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey mentioned in collection of tweets that the unique 140-character restrict was arbitrary, impressed by the 160-character restrict for SMS messages over cellphones. He anticipated “the snark and critique” concerning the change and mentioned most customers possible will not use the total 280 characters.

“What matters now is we clearly show why this change is important, and to prove to you it’s better,” he mentioned. “Give us some time to learn and confirm (or challenge!) our ideas.”

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