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Twitter experiments with 280-character Tweets; full rollout a possibility

Image credit: reuters

The character limit for individual tweets could be doubled to 280 characters if a new trial by Twitter proves successful.

The social network said that it would allow users get around the “constraints” posed by certain languages.

For example just 0.4 per cent of tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters, which is a “considerable difference to 9 per cent of English tweets having 140 characters”, the company said.

This differentiation is due to the fact that East Asian languages use single characters to represent entire words, unlike Latin-based languages.

Twitter is therefore planning to roll out longer Tweets to all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

The social networking giant said it wanted users to “easily express themselves on Twitter” and believes the current 140-character limit can make it difficult for those “cramming” their tweets in languages such as English and Spanish.

Twitter already made changes last year to how it quantified the character limit. Photos, videos, GIFs and polls stopped being included in the limit although links still take up 23 characters (regardless of whether the link text itself is longer or shorter than that). In addition, character limits from Direct Messages sent privately between users were scrapped. 

The trial is being rolled out to a small percentage of Twitter’s 328 million monthly active users, with the company saying it is “excited to see how those with 280 characters use it”.

Aliza Rosen, Twitter’s product manager said: “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming.”

Despite the move to increase character count, Rosen stressed that Twitter was still about brevity, adding: “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.”

Twitter recorded a 5 per cent increase in the number of users compared with 2016, but revealed in its Q2 earnings this year that revenue fell 5 per cent on the same quarter last year to $574m (£436m).

In January 2016, it was reported that the company was considered expanding the maximum number of characters per Tweet up to 10,000 although these plans were later scrapped. 

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