The days of crafting a perfect 140-character tweet might soon be a thing of the past.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone tweeted on Tuesday afternoon the company is looking to double its message limit to 280 characters.
“Also, we realize that 140 isn’t fair — there are differences between languages,” Stone said. “We’re testing the limits. Hello 280!”
Originally, our constraint was 160 (limit of a text) minus username. But we noticed @biz got 1 more than @jack. For fairness, we chose 140. Now texts are unlimited. Also, we realize that 140 isn't fair—there are differences between languages. We're testing the limits. Hello 280!
— Biz Stone (@biz) September 26, 2017
If Stone’s message looked abnormally long, that’s because it was already testing out the new character limits (it was 279 characters, to be exact).
Twitter said in a blog post the testing is in part due to language differences, with nine percent of English tweets hitting the 140-character wall.
“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” said Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen in the post.
The post said the testing is confined to a “small group right now.” According to the company’s internal data, character limits have been a significant hinderance towards getting users to tweet more.
This isn’t the first time Twitter has looked into expanding its trademark character limit. The option was on the table last year, but was eventually shot down by CEO Jack Dorsey. “It’s a good constraint for us,” Dorsey said on the “Today Show” at the time. “It allows for of-the-moment brevity.”
The 11-year-old company now appears to be more willing to experiment. As other social media staples like Facebook have seen their businesses flourish in recent years, Twitter has been heading in reverse, with its shares dropping 28 percent in the last year. Users have been abandoning ship, too, with Twitter losing two million monthly users in the U.S. last quarter (its global base is 328 million). Augmenting its bedrock feature might be one way to pull the company out of social media purgatory.
“Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too,” concluded Rosen. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.”