(Photo by Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Twitter announces test of new 280-character limit for tweets

Twitter announced Tuesday that it may be expanding the character limit for tweets from 140 characters to 280.

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In an official Twitter blog post, the company said it is going to experiment with a longer limit by making it available to a small group for the time being.

The official post, by Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara, said the goal is to make it easier for people to express themselves:

“Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone. What matters most is that this works for our community – we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet.

“Twitter is about brevity. It's what makes it such a great way to see what's happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change.”

The co-founders of Twitter, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, commented on the change:

“Originally, our constraint was 160 (limit of a text) minus username. But we noticed @biz got 1 more than @jack. For fairness, we chose 140. Now texts are unlimited. Also, we realize that 140 isn't fair—there are differences between languages. We're testing the limits. Hello 280!

“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!” 

The new limit includes every language except Japanese, Chinese and Korean because they usually require less characters to express more information.

The original 140-character limit was created so tweets would fit in a single text message back when people used Twitter that way. But most people now use Twitter through its mobile app, where there isn’t the same technical constraint.

Twitter has already eased the restrictions, and doesn’t count photos, videos, polls and other things toward the character limit. And users have found creative ways to get around the restrictions, including taking screenshots of blocks of text and highlighting relevant phrases.

According to Forbes, Twitter intends to roll the feature out broadly over time.

Read more about the new character limit here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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