Wednesday 22 November 2017

Twitter wants to double the length of tweets to 280 characters

Twitter
Twitter
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Twitter wants to double the length of tweets to 280 characters.

The social media company has started a trial with a “small group”, randomly chosen across the world, to see if people like the new longer format.

“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean,” said Aliza Rosen, Twitter product manager.

The company has published figures showing that 9pc of users tweeting in English reach the 140-character limit compared to just 0.4pc of Japanese users.

Reaching the character limit is “a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English”, said Ms Rosen, adding that when people tweet with room to spare, they tweet more often.

“When I tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my tweet down so it fits,” she said “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 [Ihara, senior software engineer at Twitter] 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.”

The move may attract criticism from those who say that Twitter is becoming too wordy.

However, Twitter published examples of what the a timeline with longer tweets would look like, with side-by-side comparisons appearing to show little extra space required for the 280-character tweets.

Quoted tweets are expected to take up the same amount of space, as Twitter truncates the original tweet at present.

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters,” said Ms Rosen. “We felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.

“Twitter is about brevity. It's what makes it such a great way to see what's happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change.”

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