So long, 140. Hello, 280: Twitter doubles character count on tweets

Two months' later, Twitter has decided that everyone can use 280 characters in tweets, but in response to inevitable criticism about longer tweets relieving Twitter of the brevity it once prided itself on, the company reckons that the changes to users' timelines won't be that significant.

Twitter has been slowly easing restrictions to let people cram more characters into a tweet. Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter.

The new 280 character limit is already hitting the official app, web interface, and Tweetdeck for users in most countries.

But Twitter said that in its initial tests, most people had only gone a little bit over 140 characters and didn't use the maximum limit.

"During the first few days of the test, many people tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised".

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At present, the character-limitation encourages "threads", where multiple tweets are linked to form the equivalent of a blog post. The result is that users spend too much time trying to edit their tweets down, or abandon them altogether. When Twitter rolled out the larger character limit, it noticed a drop in the number of tweets running against the maximum count. For reference, in the timeline, Tweets with an image or poll usually take up more space than a 190 character Tweet.

Users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean will still have the original limit.

Though neither user has offered any details on the exact method they used to send out this monster tweet, some have speculated that the use of certain URL suffixes (such as.cc) is what allowed for the exploit.

Gartner analyst Brian Blau said in September that he doubts that the change will have a major effect on what people post to Twitter.

The company said 9% of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters.

  • Regina Walsh