Make it a double – Twitter testing out 280-character tweets


Well this is going to prove contentious. Twitter is testing a brand new feature that, depending on your point of view, could be just what the service needs. Or will finally bring about that doom folks have been prophesying for years.

What could this feature possibly be? A direct link into Skynet’s neural systems, which then reads every tweet? That might actually set off the robot apocalypse, but no. The ability to deliver coffee to your home with a tweet? No, but we’d take that too. No, Twitter is making tweets longer — doubling up the character limit from 140 to 280.

If, that is, you’re using a language other than Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. According to Twitter’s Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara, “… we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming.” Which consists of most of them, aside from those mentioned above. The idea is that a larger character limit means more complete tweets without running out of space — which could be a good thing.

But the planned change might also make a few eyes twitch, as Twitter is based around brevity. Doubling its character capacity has the potential to ruin that, something that the company has acknowledged. They seem confident that giving its users 280 characters to play with will only improve the service but, just to be sure, “…we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone.” So expect to see some weirdness in your Timelines, right up until it becomes commonplace. Or doesn’t, depending on what data the service gathers from the current test.

Source: Twitter (blog)


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