280 Characters More: Twitter Makes Plans To Double Character Limit
In a tweet published yesterday, and with an explanatory blog post to follow, Twitter announced that they were trialling a new version of the social platform, extending its current 140 character limit to 280 – doubling the amount of sharing done by users.
In the accompanying blog post, author Aliza Rosen argued that ‘we want people everywhere to share more on Twitter’, and by allowing users more characters to express themselves, Twitter wants to make the experience more personal and accessible to everyone. She goes on to explain that whilst those tweeting in more symbolic languages e.g. Japanese and Chinese users, may not feel as restricted by 140 characters, English users are struggling to fully express their thoughts in the current limit.
Despite the seemingly good intentions of Twitter in this experimentation, it received fiercely mixed reviews from current users on the platform. Many users expressed diverse reactions from joy at the idea of consecutively sharing their thoughts online in one post, rather than a threat, to frustration that Twitter will be ‘copying Facebook’ in a bid to become the official ‘online diary’.
Other complaints of the experiment covered the lack of user-feedback featuring in the decision to extend the character limits, with some arguing that other system issues, such as an edit, or dislike, button should have been prioritised before this particular upgrade. In recent months, Twitter has also faced many media controversies in regards to online extremism. Although the social networking site has made moves to eradicate this behaviour from their platform, in the removal of almost 300,000 potentially offensive accounts, some users felt this represented another issue which should have been fixed before the character limit.
Even popular fiction author Phillip Pullman, whose fantasy trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ spans over 70 text-heavy chapters, spoke out on the side of ‘less is more’ when it comes to Twitter. It’s clear that, although so many do complain about the restrictions of the shortened character limit, in that it can lead to poor grammar and punctuation errors in longer posts, it wasn’t a problem that needed immediate resolution.
One commenter in particular even brought up the highly emotive tweets of Donald Trump, whose recent sharing habits have led to political friction between America and North Korea, declaring that a longer character limit would only provide him with more opportunity to ‘damage’ the country.
The minority few, however, who were excited by the prospect of an extended character limit also provided valid arguments for the cause. Providing users with more opportunities to share longer quotes, detailed descriptions, share anecdotes and use longer hashtags means that Twitter could become a more literary-based platform. For high profile accounts, such as those of musicians and artists, the freedom to provide more information about concert details and meet ups is a positive function. For more comedic personalities, this is an opportunity to share longer stories for the entertainment of their followers. Even for brands and businesses, the chance to include more descriptions of product launches, new services, recruitment drives and daily updates could be very beneficial.
Overall, the Twitter character length size is still in its experimental stage, and there’s no guarantee that it will ever publicly come into play. But from the reactions provided by the existing Twitter users, if it ever does become an accessible social function – it seems unlikely to be a popular one.