For the longest time, Twitter has been steadfast in prioritizing brevity when it comes to posting Tweets. In response, more and more users have been finding loopholes to get around the 140-character limit (such as by posting photos of text instead).
Twitter’s founders based the limit on the popularity of SMS messaging (and its 160-character limit) at the time of its inception. The company isn’t blind to the difficulties presented by these limitations, though, as evidenced in a recent post by project manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara on the official blog.
“Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain,” Rosen and Ihara wrote.
The writers also shared their findings from a recent study on users’ Tweeting behavior, taking language into consideration:
We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34. Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese. Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting – which is awesome!
As a result, Twitter will enable select users to Tweet with twice the current maximum character limit — from 140 to 280. The test will run for an unspecified number of weeks in all languages except Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The writers did not divulge any other information concerning the test, such as sample size and location.
This move was not universally well-received, despite Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s statement explaining the company’s decision.
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Can’t wait? Here’s a Tweet workaround
Step 1. Download Tampermonkey for your browser.
Step 2. Visit this Github repository, click the “Raw” button, then tell Tampermonkey to “install” the script (or copy and paste the code into a new script in Tampermonkey)
Step 3. Go to twitter.com with the script in running in Tampermonkey, then type your tweet.
Author: Tomas Pedrosa
A graduate of Information Design, a versatile writer, and an avid gamer, Tomas prides himself in his willingness to gain new experiences and perspectives, and to apply what he learns in his other pursuits. Curiosity, interest, and obsession—these are the mile markers that keep him going down his road.