Twitter on Tuesday announced that it is doubling its character limit to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. At its inception, a tweet, modeled after an SMS message, was restricted to 140 characters. Over the years, Twitter found ways to sneak in a few more characters, first by excluding any form of media and later the @reply from the character count.
The company had also flirted with the idea of 10,000 character tweets, according to technology website Re/Code. However, Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder and CEO, pulled the plug on it.
Twitter has explained that its current update is meant to even out the difference caused by the idiosyncrasies of the scripts of different languages. For instance, in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, 140 characters can convey a lot more information as compared to English or Spanish — it is this unevenness that Twitter currently aims to iron out.
One of the first people to tweet using the 280 characters was Dorsey who prefaced the news with “this is a small change, but a big move for us”.
Meanwhile, the other co-founder Biz Stone added “(We) realize that 140 isn’t fair — there are differences between languages. We’re testing the limits. Hello 280!”
The move received a lot of flak from the Twitterati, who saw the move as an attempt to steal the soul of the site. Brevity is a key element that separates it from the more chaotic Facebook, many pointed out. Another criticism that was echoed in a number of reactions was how Twitter appeared to prioritize cosmetic changes even as it dilly-dallied over vital issues like speeding up its system for filtering hate speech, racism and violence.
In case you need more characters to convey your message, you can always create a ‘thread’ or use ‘quote tweet’, users said. However, the platform is yet to come up with a bankable procedure to initiate action against online bullying, fake accounts and fake news that plagues all social media sites.