In its 11 years of existence, Twitter has been known for one unique trait: its brief, 140 character post limit.
When asked back in 2016 whether the social media platform would relax this limit in the near future, CEO Jack Dorsey denied the idea, stating that the current limitations would remain.
That has now changed. Twitter announced that it is testing a feature that allows users to double their post length up to 280 characters. The new character limit is only available to randomly-selected small groups of people from around the world.
Twitter said the goal of this new initiative was to eliminate some constraints that have kept people from tweeting more often.
In a company blog post, Product Manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said that this change was first prompted after the company noticed differences among languages. Some languages, such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, use alphabets that allow for greater expression in fewer characters. Users tweeting in these languages hit character limits less often, which lead to more posts.
Twitter said that by relaxing its rules, English-speaking users would also hit character limits less frequently, thus motivating them to post more often.
The idea of a 280 character Twitter has been met with mixed reviews.
“I don’t need that many characters,” said Xuxa Santos, junior biology major, “I’ve conditioned myself to get everything out in 140.”
As far as the new feature being available to select users, Jan Paranal, sophomore social work major, feels it is “unfair” and that “it should be available to everyone so we can all have an input.”
Some supporters of the doubled character limit feel that it is beneficial, and provides a way to bring in new users from other networks, such as Facebook, who may have been turned away by the shorter post length.
Others like Dina Nashed and Asma Khan, sophomore biology majors, have said that while it allows tweeters to expand on their thoughts, it takes away from the original intent of expressing yourself within a limit. Both emphasized that while the new character limit could be helpful, it could also get too wordy.
At this time, Twitter is planning on making the doubled character limit available in all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. While a date has not been given for the new update, Twitter says that they will “keep [users] posted about what we see and what comes next.”