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Express yourself! Twitter doubling character count from 140 to 280 for some users

Twitter
(Twitter Images)

Knowing that Twitter limits users to 140-character posts has always been equal parts joy and frustration: Joy in knowing that some people on the social media site can’t get too long winded, and frustration in our own inability to express what we’re really thinking in a limited space.

Now, for the first time, Twitter is raising the limit, as it announced Tuesday that some people will gain access to 280 characters.

Twitter users seemed split on their reaction to the change.

In a blog post, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen explained that the decision was based on the fact that character count is not equal in all languages.

“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,” Rosen wrote.

Rosen used tweets in Japanese to further drive home the point, writing that only 0.4 percent of tweets in that language reach 140 characters, while 9 percent of tweets written in English reach reach 140.

Twitter character count
Examples of 140, left, and 280 character Tweets. (Twitter Image)
Twitter character count
The same tweet in different languages.

“Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone,” Rosen wrote. “What matters most is that this works for our community — we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to tweet.”

Twitter previously stopped counting @usernames and media file links toward character counts.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is obviously one of the folks who gets to test drive the new limit. And on Tuesday he tweeted a 280-character reaction, calling it a small change, but a big move and saying brevity and speed will always be maintained at the 11-year-old service.

It’s certainly a new era for Twitter, which launched back in 2006.

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