Twitter on Tuesday announced it would officially allow the majority of users to tweet updates up to 280 characters long moving forward - double the previous amount. SMS has largely become obsolete to Twitter users as smartphone technology has advanced. But if they needed those extra few characters, they "Tweeted more easily and more often", according to Twitter, which can apparently read users minds and determine when they are at ease. The company also said that with the new limit, only 5% of tweets were longer than 140 characters, while only 2% topped 190 characters. Given the platform's struggle to attract new users in recent years, Twitter is likely hoping this move will help it overcome sluggish growth up its daily user count from the current 330 million.
After enabling 280 characters on a small number of accounts, Twitter says that only 1% of people hit the limit.
Ever since Jack Dorsey sent out his first tweet in March 2006, Twitter (TWTR) has been synonymous with a pithy 140-character limit. A heavily retweeted image following the announcement showed Dorsey's long tweet announcing the change edited down to fit in 139 characters.
"This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning tweets before sending". With 280 characters, only one percent of tweets hit the limit.
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Users writing in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean will still be limited to 140 characters.
But, Twitter said, while obnoxiously long messages weren't flooding users' timelines, the more verbose tweets did let people fire off messages faster and, the company believes, with less agonizing over each message.
"In our testing, we have seen strong engagement levels with Tweets that are above 140 characters but ultimately, the best Tweets will come down to quality of language and content, whether the Tweet is 80, 180 or 280 characters", said Leanne Gibson, acting managing director at Twitter Canada.
It's worth emphasizing again that people in the test got very excited about the extra space in the beginning and many Tweets went way beyond 140.
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