Twitter is a great platform that has made careers and even destroyed them. In Kenya, Twitter has become a movement, better known as Kenyans on Twitter (KOT). Well, as much as we love tweeting how our day was, how much we dislike a certain politician and even curating our private lives and getting into battles online, the 140 character limit has always tamed us.
Things are about to go into overdrive as Twitter has reported that they are testing a 280 character limit with a small group of people. According to Twitter’s Co-Founder, the new limit is in an effort to create fairness, since there are differences between languages.
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!
— Biz Stone (@biz) September 26, 2017
In a blog post, Aliza Rosen, Twitter’s Product Manager, further explained how the company arrived at raising the limit from 140 characters to 280. “Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain. Interestingly, this isn’t a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French,” she explains.
“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 (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” she continues.
At the moment, the new 280 character limit is only available to a select of people whom Twitter says is using to collect data before they decide to roll it out to everyone. The company acknowledges that there might be some backlash due to the “emotional attachment” that some tweeps may have to the 140 character limit but @biz seems confident that the new limit will not really make a big difference in how we use Twitter.
What do you think? Smart move or will this create chaos on Twitter now that people will have room to say more?
Thanks Pius for the early morning tip, however, you owe me coffee now 🙂