Twitter officially doubles character count, says most 280 testers didn’t use it
If you logged into Twitter on Tuesday to rant about the news of the day, from various elections across the United States to the launch of the Xbox One X, you may have noticed some more breathing room in your rants. That’s because the social networking service’s character limit has now officially doubled for all of its Roman-alphabet users.
A weeks-long test began in late September, allowing select, random users to post 280 characters per tweet instead of the default 140-character limit. (Both classes of users could still save on characters by way of shortened URLs and attached images.) In extending that change to almost all users, Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen published a statement that claims, among other things, that the test didn’t result in an endless wave of fully packed 280-character posts.
“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,” Rosen wrote. “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.” She then posted separate internal-study articles from Twitter engineers to back up her claims, which included that only two percent of testers’ tweets exceeded 190 characters, let alone got near the new 280-character limit.
Rosen conceded that the test’s novelty factor led to disruptive use of the new limit, including tweets that filled an entire screen by using more line breaks. “We expect to see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week’s launch and expect it to resume to normal behavior soon after,” she added.
Users on the site’s Chinese, Korean, and Japanese sites, on the other hand, will continue to be limited to 140 characters. When the first limit-doubling test went live, Twitter pointed out that far fewer users in those languages ever reached the site’s maximum character count, owing to how “character cramming” was less common in those languages. (Conversely, languages like German allowed more testers per capita due to those languages’ character-cramming issues.)
Author Sam Machkovech