Twitter Inc. said on Tuesday that users can send tweets with as many as 280 characters, double the current limit, the latest attempt by the social media company to revive anemic user growth.
The roll-out includes all languages except Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Twitter said those Asian languages can convey about double the amount of information in one character compared with many other languages.
The company started testing the longer tweet limit with a small group of users in September. Twitter found that people with the expanded character limit spent less time editing their tweets. Those people also got more followers, spent more time on the platform and interacted more with other users on the service, the company added.
“We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often,” Aliza Rosen, a company product manager, wrote in a blog. “More space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send tweets faster than before.”
The 140-character limit is a relic of a previous technological era. That was the maximum that could fit in mobile text messages when the service started in 2006, before the mass adoption of smartphones.
Now with more advanced devices, there’s no technical limit on the size of tweets. Some Twitterati think brevity is the soul of the service and worry the longer form will ruin what’s special about it. However, many of Twitter’s 330 million monthly active users were already getting around the limit by linking to longer pieces, taking screenshots of full stories, and sending streams of tweets called tweetstorms to complete thoughts.
Twitter hopes the longer limit will make its service more approachable for more people. It’s a popular destination for journalists, politicians and celebrities, but the company has failed to reach a more general audience like Facebook Inc. In its current form, Twitter has proved cumbersome for new users, yet each time the company tries to change an important feature, heavy users complain.