Twitter to test longer tweets – but only for European languages

Twitter has announced that it has started tests which could see the end of the service’s long-standing 140 character limit.

In a blog post this morning, the company explained some users’ accounts will allow double the existing limit in an experiment covering various European languages including English, German and Spanish.

Co-authored by Aliza Rosen, product manager, and Ikuhiro Ihara, senior software engineer, the post explains Twitter found European languages are affected by the 140 character limit more than the Asian double-byte character set (DBCS).

The change comes after Twitter altered its look and feel to attract younger users and launched new features for advertisers, with the post open about how the changes are intended to increase adoption of the service, which has failed to meet investors’ expectations.

“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!” wrote the blog post authors.

“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming – this means Japanese, Chinese, and Korean will continue to have 140 characters to tweet.

Screenshots of the extended Twitter posts

“We see that a small percent of tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese tweets are 15 characters while most English tweets are 34.

“We’ve learned from research that 140 characters feels more constraining in parts of the world due to differing language density. The goal is to reduce the friction involved with tweeting for some, while ensuring Twitter is still about brevity.”

A ‘small number’ of randomly selected Twitter users will have the extended feature during the test, however those without access to the 280 character version will be able to read the longer tweets.

“We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next,” the post concluded.


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