So long, 140. Hello, 280: Twitter doubles character count on tweets

Our commander-in-chief is going to have a lot more room to tweet.
 
Twitter announced Tuesday it will roll out a 280-character limit for single tweets after testing the option among a handful of users since September.
 
The new character limit applies to languages where cramming is an issue, such as English. The change won't apply to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages because the density of their writing allows users to say more with fewer characters.
 
The move will give President Donald Trump, Twitter's highest profile user, more room to discuss potential policies and take aim at critics.
 
The idea behind the new limit was to give users more room to express themselves without hitting the 140-character limit, said Twitter product manager Aliza Rozen. When Twitter rolled out the larger character limit, it noticed a drop in the number of tweets running against the maximum count.
 
"We believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer," said Rozen. "This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet,
 so they could say what they want to say, and send tweets faster than before."
 
When Twitter revealed it was testing out a larger character limit in September, many users grew concerned their feeds would clog with much longer tweets, including from the country's tweeter-in-chief.
 
Trump continues to use Twitter as his primary platform, a trend he started well before he entered the presidential election. Although Trump was not part of the 280-character test, the wider rollout could produce longer Twitter rants.
 
"And in one stroke, Twitter doubles the complexity of our nation's foreign policy," joked late night host Stephen Colbert after Twitter unveiled testing for 280 characters.
The USA TODAY Trump Voter Panel, a focus group of 25 Trump voters from around the country, agreed the president's tweeting is a big reason for his troubles in the first months of his administration.
Rozen said during the testing period, only 5% of tweets topped the 140-character limit, and only 2% went beyond 190 characters.
 
"We – and many of you – were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space," said Rozen. "But that didn’t happen." 
 
Twitter users also expressed concerns the higher count goes against the spirit of the service and its 140-character concept.
 
Users have already employed clever tactics to stretch beyond 140 characters, such as screenshots of longer messages or tweetstorms, a series of connected tweets.
 
Ultimately, Twitter's decision could lead to users growing more engaged with the service. Rozen said users with the longer character count earned more likes, retweets, and mentions, along with more followers.
 
The character change could also help spur user growth, an important issue for investors wanting Twitter to follow the trajectory of social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram.
 
Last quarter, Twitter reported 330 million monthly active users, up 4% from the same time last year.
 
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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