Yes, Twitter is increasing tweet capacity to make them 280-characters long (effectively two times the 140-characters we are used to).
At first, when I saw Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey’s tweet appear on my TL, I thought it was an excerpt from a post, boldly, I clicked on it, only to find that it was an actual TWEET! Oh no!
It is so long, bring back my 140 characters and give me an edit button. 😩😩
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
Aliza Rosen, Product Manager (PM) of Twitter wrote in a post about the need to accommodate more English words in the Twitter text box as other Japanese, Chinese and Korean (JCK) people tend to say more with the same 140-characters tweet restriction. If you still can’t see it yet, it says CHARACTERS and not alphabets (which is a core feature of the English language). For the JCK people, a character means more than just an alphabet in English. Aliza reports that they “can convey about double the amount of information in one character…”.
9% of all tweets in English, hit the 140-character limit while only 0.4% of all tweets in Japanese reach that limit
“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter…”, says the PM.
Although this remains a test and is accessible to only a few people (for now), of course, Jack is one of them. It is not yet certain when or whether this feature will roll-out to the rest of Twitter users around the world except the JCK’s.
Reactions are already flying about with some users saying, “oh no“, “Nope…we don’t want this“. And you will come to understand their point because as Aliza even re-echoed, “Twitter is about brevity”. We don’t want people writing a mini-blog post in a tweet. What will be the future of Twitter threads?
One user, Caitlin, has come through with an implication for how more space encourages verbosity.
139 characters pic.twitter.com/WkfdXL8oLh
— Caitlin Kelly (@caitlin__kelly) September 26, 2017
A game of numbers
Well, I guess for Twitter it is a game of numbers where they are more concerned about an increase in the number of tweets than what people might have come to love. Aliza Rosen puts it this way, “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!”. For companies in the online/social media space, it is about keeping users on your site long enough. Having more people tweeting means there will be more to read and if there is more to read people will most likely stay longer *insert Kayode Ewuwi’s (think about it) meme*. Another angle will be “the longer it takes for people to read tweets the longer time they will spend on the app”, however, that might be counter-productive. As it could discourage people from attempting to read ‘lengthy’ tweets in the first place.
Further analysis of the 140-characters vs 280-characters
Using Jack as a case study, the average time it took to read his 140-character tweet was 5 seconds.
We’re putting significant effort into increasing our transparency as a company, and commit to meaningful and fast progress. Will do better. https://t.co/g1Rvkaj2sl
— jack (@jack) September 25, 2017
But now, with his 280-character tweet, it takes 12 seconds.
Which is a more than double increase in the amount of time a regular user might spend on the app.
So you see my friend, beyond their need to get more people ‘freely expressing themselves’, it could also help keep users on the site longer.