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Expressing Yourself In 280 Characters or Less: Twitter Update

September 28, 2017

Rejoice broke out over the internet recently, with birds cheeping longer songs everywhere. No longer are we limited by a 140-character count, with Twitter doubling the existing limit to the new and improved 280-character count.

Although it is still in a testing phase, the changes are long awaited by avid Twitter users. The new updated version is said to be more inclusive of foreign languages that struggled under the previous word limit to make coherent sentences.

When the San Francisco-based company opened its doors in 2006, it was detailed as a news sharing platform known by its defining blue bird logo. One of the most significant and core features of the platform was the brevity by which users were able to express their views, news or comments.

Users soon found ways around this by posting pictures of text to get everything that needed to be said out to their followers. Others turned to abbreviations in an attempt to squeeze everything in. Those days are somewhat over, as are the days of frustration trying to eloquently portray your thoughts in a tweet (and failing).

So, what are some of the reasons behind the change?

In a blog posted by the company on Tuesday, it was suggested that numerous languages were hindered by the text limit. In fact, all languages except for Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

In a comparison made between English and Japanese tweets, it was found that 9% of all English tweets hit the word limit compared to the 0.4% of all Japanese tweets that do.


Image source: Twitter

In the graph above, it is shown that most Japanese tweets have a character count of 15. Most English tweets far exceed this, reaching 34 characters per tweet. Although the company is currently only testing the new 280-character limit on an unspecified selection of the Twitter community, it may be a turning point for the platform if the company decides to permanently include the new feature.

Some die-hard Twitter users are not impressed by the possible rollout of the new feature, with many criticising the platform for not tackling larger issues. Specifically, people have tweeted about the reporting systems on the platform and the lack of user-filtering for those who use the platform as a means to spread hatred and bigotry. However, these concerns may be a focus once the new feature has rolled out.

Twitter is all about keeping it short and simple, and although the company stated it has an emotional attachment to the original 140-character limit, they are excited to see the future of the newer (but still relatively brief) constraint.