Gird Your Loins: Twitter Is Giving Everyone 280 Characters

Gird Your Loins: Twitter Is Giving Everyone 280 Characters


After several weeks of Twitter users tweeting about how much they hate the idea of expanded character limits, Twitter has officially announced that it's doubling the previous 140-character limit for all users.

However, Twitter users - or, at least, a lot of them - did not sound off with the same level of enthusiasm when the news broke.

Aliza Rosen, product manager at Twitter said: "We - and many of you - were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space".

When Twitter began testing the 280-word limit back in September, Altimeter Group analyst Susan Etlinger told Yahoo Finance that it was an attempt to recapture a little of the magic it had five years ago, before bots and polarizing political discussions became a mainstay on the social network.

"We believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer", said Rozen.

The company didn't disclose how many users have been testing the longer tweets.

The 140-character length wasn't a random choice: Twitter's founders wanted tweets to fit in a text message, which can only hold 160 characters. "But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained", a Twitter blog post explains.

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. Rozen said users with the longer character count earned more likes, retweets, and mentions, along with more followers.

Of course, the change means America's highest-profile Twitter user, President Trump, will have more space.

Not everyone was using the extra space: Only 5 percent of tweets were longer than 140 characters and just 2 percent went over 190. We expect to see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week's launch and expect it to resume to normal behavior soon after. However, many of Twitter's 330 million monthly active users were already getting around the limit by linking to longer pieces, taking screenshots of full stories, and sending streams of tweets called tweetstorms to complete thoughts.

  • Terrell Bush