WASHINGTON — Twitter company on Tuesday said users can send tweets with as many as 280 characters per tweet, which is double the previous limit, in an attempt by the social media company to revive anaemic user growth.
Twitter explained the expanded character limit would allow for easier expression while retaining the brevity for which the service is known.
With the previous limit in place, 9 per cent of tweets hit 140 characters. But during the test of expanded tweets, only 1 percent of tweets hit 280 characters, Twitter added. "More space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before," the company said in a blog post.
Longer tweets will now be the standard in every language, where Twitter is available save for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, where the 140-character limit will still apply. The company says Asian languages fit more thoughts into fewer characters; the average length of a tweet in Japanese is 15 characters.
The company started testing the longer tweet limit with a small group of users in September and found that people with the expanded character limit spent less time editing their tweets. Those people also got more followers, spent more time on the platform and interacted more with other users on the service, the company added.
"We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often," Aliza Rosen, a company product manager, wrote in a blog. "More space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send tweets faster than before." The 140-character limit is a relic of a previous technological era. That was the maximum that could fit in mobile text messages when the service started in 2006, before the mass adoption of smartphones, the blog said.
At the same time, expanding the character limit risks disrupting the fast-moving, real-time nature of the site, encouraging users to post more expansive paragraphs, where they once might just have posted a few words and a link. This could be especially true of Twitter’s large and noisy class of professional pundits, who live to explain the day’s events through voluminous threads.