Twitter doubles tweet Duration to 280 characters

What does that look like?

This sentence is 140 characters: users cram in words (often slang), emojis, ascii art ?_?, handles like @tw1tt3rart?, and even ugh #hashtags

This paragraph would fit in a new 280 tweet limit. It’s an experimental length and only a small number of users will immediately get longer-winded. Twitter says 9 per cent of all tweets in English reach the character limit, and it argues that more space could equal more tweets. (+1)

Still ‘about brevity’

The company’s blog post maintains: “Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening.” The average tweet in Japanese (a more compact alphabet/language) is 15 characters. Compare that with English, in which the average tweet is 34 characters. 34 characters is really not a lot. (+14)

How did 140 characters come to be?

Initially, it was to fit inside the limits of 160-character SMS text messages – a more relevant fact when Twitter was developed in 2007. “It’s staying,” and co-founder Jack Dorsey told NBC in March, 2016. “It’s a good constraint for us.” (+39)

Time for change

But slow growth has bedevilled Twitter in recent years compared to its social media peers. Between 2010 and 2015, Twitter went from 30 million monthly active users to more than 300 million. That was quite good. Then things slowed down:

2015 Q1: 302 million

2016 Q1: 310 million

2017 Q1: 328 million (-21)

Twitter’s had a tough time lately amid high staff turnover, slowdowns in its ad revenue business and scandals over abusive comments. Still, even though Facebook is the top social media dog, about 12 million Canadians still use Twitter every month, according to the company. (+7)

Character evolution

In the past 12 months, Twitter has made a number of tweaks. In September of 2016, photos, GIFS and polls stopped counting against the 140 limit; in March it stopped counting @replies. Strangely, hyperlinks still count against the longer limit, although they are shortened. (+8)

Longer tweets might make for more compelling tweetstorms, too, as language and psychology researcher James Pennebaker explained to Wired in 2015: “The ‘longer is stronger’ heuristic – a bias that most people have that causes them to find longer blocks of text more compelling.” (+3)

But there’s a possible downside: Twitter will look more like the hashtag apocalypse of more popular social network Instagram: #livingmybestlife #everydayablessing #repost #what #moarplease #love #family #life #followback #welltheyjustkeepcoming #boyyoucanactivatealotoftwittermobs (0)

Possible upside: Tweeter-In-Chief Donald J. Trump can stop torturing the world with minutes-long pauses between the ellipses … of his two-part tweets. No more rampant speculation for several minutes about whether his new threats against North Korea include a declaration of war. (+2)

Also, Twitter expects backlash: “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.” (+1)

Note: You may have noticed we tried to keep each paragraph under 280 characters. Folk, it’s harder than it looks.


The reaction so far

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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