If you’ve ever tried to express yourself in a tweet, only to bump up against the 140 character limit on Twitter, you’ll be thrilled by this week’s news. Twitter is has started to allow 280 characters in tweets.
That’s right, instead of working hard to edit your thoughts down to 140 characters, you may now be able to have twice the ability to share your message.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter announced this change on Twitter, using all 280 characters to do so:
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
This change follows other changes that allow users to make the most of their tweets. Last year, Twitter kept its 140 character limit but excluded from the character count:
- Web addresses/URLs
- Quote Tweets
- Twitter IDs in Replies
That change last year allowed for much more space to express yourself, even though the character limit remained at 140.
Now Twitter is doubling the character count from 140 to 280, while still excluding the items listed above, to give you even more opportunity to express yourself in a tweet.
This change is only available to a “small group” right now, while Twitter examines the impact of allowing 280 characters. Presumably the change will be made available to all if it is well-received.
How to Tell Whether You Can Use 280 Characters in a Tweet
Want to know whether you are a part of the small group that is allowed 280 characters on Twitter? There’s an easy way to tell.
Open Twitter on your computer or in the Twitter app and begin writing a tweet. If you see the character count at 140 you aren’t part of the group who are allowed 280 characters.
If the character count starts at 280, you are one of the lucky ones!
What If You Just Can’t Wait for 280 Characters?
If you aren’t part of the chosen few who have access to 280 characters, you have a couple of choices. First, you can wait until you get access.
But if you simply can’t wait, you may (or may not) want to try one of the work-arounds that industrious Twitter users have discovered. Be forewarned though, these solutions are only for those who are comfortable with a bit of coding.
If you need 280 characters now, check out these articles that explain how to get 280 characters on Twitter without waiting:
- The Verge, How to tweet with 280 characters right now
- Engadget, Twitter workarounds give anyone 280 characters to play with
- Daily Mail, The Twitter hack that lets ANYONE tweet with 280 characters using a free piece of code: Here’s how to get it
Again, only try these if you’re comfortable with coding.
You can also search the Internet to find other ways to increase your limit to 280 characters.
Why the Change to 280 Characters
Twitter explained this new policy in a post on the Twitter blog this week. The company discovered that tweets in languages with characters, such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, did not use the maximum 140 character limit nearly as often as tweets in languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
The company found that tweets in Japanese averaged 15 characters while those in English averaged 34 characters. It also learned that tweets in English run up against the 140 character limit 9% of the time while Japanese tweets only did that 0.4% of the time.
The graph that will change Twitter. The most impactful data science happens by asking the right questions and giving clear and compelling answers, fancy methods are often a distraction! https://t.co/Q9U97IsSVR pic.twitter.com/GiTwBueNYu
— Venu Satuluri (@venusatuluri) September 26, 2017
Twitter said in its blog post, “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. 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!”
Reaction to the 280 Character Limit on Twitter
Reaction to the 280 character limit on Twitter has been mixed. Some are wishing they had access to the new limit,
me: i will never tweet 280 characters
also me: (checking twitter every minute) why havent they given me 280 characters, ddo i not deserve it
— jomny sun (@jonnysun) September 27, 2017
while others think 280 still isn’t enough characters.
280 characters? Really? If you cannot manage to say what you need to communicate in 140 characters then you have no business being on Twitte
— Jo Wolff (@JoWolffBSG) September 27, 2017
Others wish the limit were lowered instead…
If you thought these tweets were annoying…. Wait til you see them in 280 characters 💀💀 pic.twitter.com/6fHcqkgYbm
— Mwes M Drew™ (@_mwes) September 27, 2017
Are you in favor of Twitter’s new character limit? Vote in today’s Wonder of Tech poll to share your opinion:
What do you think of Twitter’s new 280 character limit? Will you be using Twitter more because of it? Do you think it should have stuck with 140 characters?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Twitter phone image (edited) courtesy of Esther Vargas via Flickr and Creative Commons
Voice of America Learning English
If you want to learn English while reading about tech, check out my personal technology column at Voice of America Learning English. This week’s article is: iOS 11 Offers New Features for iPhones, iPads.