Science & Technology

Twitter changes limit, expands to 280 characters

Once a dream but now reality, the days of struggling with a limited character restriction on Twitter are over. The social media giant ended the 140-character restriction on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

There will now be a 280-character limit in all languages except Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Now, everyone from first-time users to President Donald Trump have the same amount of space and character to share their thoughts and memes.

Twitter originally had the 140-character limit when it was founded in 2007 because it wanted users to be able to post messages via phone. SMS messages had a 160-character limit. This restriction soon became Twitter’s identity of short and free conversation.

The company announced that it was testing this new feature in September. They were interested in a new limit because languages such as English could not exhibit as much information into 140 characters as other languages. Chinese, Japanese and Korean use characters that indicate whole words. Twitter revealed that these three languages will maintain the 140-character limit.

After Twitter conducted a test in September, the company found that users spent more time on the social media site, and received more retweets and likes when they used the 280-character 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 behavior normalized, we saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained,” wrote Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen.

Although it is a new age for Twitter, one of the controversies arising from the changes is the danger that Twitter is now resembling Facebook. Users are concerned that extended tweets could alter the essence of the messaging platform. While Twitter is appealing to journalists and politicians, it backfired when trying to secure the interest of opponents like Facebook.

Regardless of whether users approve or disapprove of the new character limit, it is hard to say that Twitter and Facebook are slowly becoming similar. Twitter has its own identity, as explained by Rosen. She stated that while 9 percent of English tweets have “historically” hit Twitter’s 140-character limit, only 1 percent of tweets with access to 280 characters hit the limit. Only 2 percent of tweets from accounts with access to the test included over 190 characters, conveying that  additional characters would not be used frequently.

The days of struggling to complete one’s tweet in 140-characters are over. But, the platform of Twitter is still the same; it just gives more space for one’s tweets and memes.

November 20, 2017

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