We’ve all been getting by on a stingy 140 characters for over a decade now, but if a new trial by Twitter is deemed successful, we’ll all be experiencing some serious lifestyle creep as we get used to having double that amount to work with.
As Business Insider reports, Twitter has lifted the character limit for all languages except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean for a small percentage of users, citing the difficulties people in certain languages have expressing themselves in so few characters – a problem that has only become more apparent as Twitter’s market has grown, and then plateaued.
A company blog post written by product manager Aliza Rosen explains why the aforementioned Asian languages won’t see their limits expanded, and highlight the stark differences between various scripts around the world, noting that 9% of English tweets reach the character limit, as opposed to 0.4% of tweets in Japanese.
“Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese,” Rosen explains. “Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!”
So, the company seems to be admitting that the approach that was originally refreshing when it was introduced 11 years ago, and no doubt contributed to much of its success, may have hampered it in the long run. As Business Insider notes, this isn’t the first course correction as far as character limits go, with web links and images no longer eating into the count as of last year.
Considering the 140 character limit has been the defining feature of the platform for so long, it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly by Twitter, especially considering backlash to proposed changes in the past – but this one feels like it’ll stick, and, in fact, needs to.
“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too,” Rosen admits. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.”
This may finally mark the end of those long, backwards strings of messages we’ve become accustomed to reading whenever we see a Twitter beef in full swing. Or, at the very least, cut a 12-tweet tirade down to a mere 6 tweets. What a time to be alive.