About a month ago, Twitter made a change to allow verified users an extra 140 characters for their tweets. While the elites got to post longer tweets, the rabble were stuck with 140 characters. Who knows the countless hours wasted figuring out what characters we can remove without making our brilliant jokes incomprehensible. But Twitter’s finally given the power to the people. As of today, on Twitter 280 characters is becoming the norm.
Twitter made the decision to boost the character limit when comparing English tweets with tweets made in languages that use ideographs, characters that represent ideas rather than sounds. For example, only 0.4% of tweets in Japanese hit the 140 character limit. That’s versus 9% of tweets in English.
The goal is to make Twitter easier to use. With a larger canvas to compose a tweet in, the company hopes to make it easier to get ideas across. Of course, brevity is still key. The updated character limit isn’t going to be enough to post a novel. After all, this very paragraph is 342 characters — and this isn’t even a particularly long one!
This move may help with citizen journalism. The multi-tweet Twitter thread is a common sight. While 240 characters isn’t enough to curb those, it will at least make the threads a bit shorter.
The move hasn’t been without criticism. The AV Club snarkily suggested that this was the solution to Twitter’s harassment problems. And they’re not wrong; Twitter should put more resources into combatting harassment.
Earlier this year, Motherboard reported that Twitter was already blocking neo-Nazi accounts from German IP addresses. We’d argue that rolling that feature out worldwide would be a better use of resources than doubling the character length.
So far, not everyone has the expanded character limit. If you have it, the “140” character counter is replaced with a circle that fills in the more characters you add.
Featured image by Petar Chernaev via iStock