Twice as much Trump? Twitter doubles its character limit on tweets
Twitter has doubled the character limit on tweets to allow its users to convey more meaning or emotion – or, in the case of Donald Trump, more elaborate war threats to North Korea.
“This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160-character SMS limit,” said chief executive Jack Dorsey, announcing the update on Tuesday.
The decision was motivated by research carried out by the social network that showed you can convey double the amount of information per character in languages like Japanese, Korean and Chinese than you can in languages like English, Spanish, Portuguese or French.
“Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese,” said Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen in a blogpost.
The team found that only 0.4% of tweets sent in Japanese hit the 140-character limit, while a much higher percentage of tweets in English (9%) hit the limit.
“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,” Rosen added.
She acknowledged that some people have an “emotional attachment” to 140 characters – “we felt it, too” – but that when the team tried it they “fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint”.
Twitter is testing the new feature with a small subset of its 328 million users before deciding whether to launch it to everyone.
The announcement polarized Twitter users, with some arguing that the company should have prioritized an editing tool or a clampdown on white nationalists using the platform.
For others the focus was on Donald Trump who recently posted a tweet that North Korea has interpreted as a “clear declaration of war”.
In response to a speech by North Korea’s Ri Yong-ho at the United Nations on Sunday, Trump wrote that if the foreign minister “echoed” the thoughts of Kim Jong-un, the two men “won’t be around for much longer”. It was the latest in a series of hostile statements between the two countries.
Twitter’s terms of service forbid making violent threats, but the company refused to take the tweet down, arguing that Trump’s statement was “newsworthy” and in the public interest.
It is not yet clear whether Trump is among the test group of users to have access to the additional characters.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010