TopicTwitter to Test Drive Double-Wide Tweets
Twitter on Tuesday announced a limited test to double the maximum tweet size to 280 characters.
Twitter has been struggling to boost user engagement for the last couple of years, and its tweet character limitation has been the subject of a longstanding debate among customers and company insiders.
One reason for the possible change is to correct for the imbalance between applying the maximum character count to Asian characters -- like Japanese, Chinese and Korean -- and applying it to characters in western languages like English, Spanish, Portugese or French, noted Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen and Senior Software Engineer Ikuhiro Ihara in an online post.
Because of the meanings attached to characters, users are able to convey twice as much information in a tweet rendered in Asian languages, they pointed out. Because of that difference, Twitter plans to test doubling the character limit for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
Lost in Translation
Twitter's internal data show that only 0.4 percent of tweets sent in Japanese were 140 characters long, while 9 percent of English language tweets were 140 characters, Rosen and Ihara wrote.
The character limit has been a major source of frustration for English language users, based on the company's research, but Japanese users don't have similar complaints, they added.
When they are not limited to140 characters, more people tweet, Rosen and Ihara noted.
It's not clear how users will react to the increased character limit. While some clearly have longed for an increase in the limit, others oppose it, arguing that the requirement to condense information into short bursts is what made Twitter unique in the social media space.
"Not to sound like a nostalgist, but from a user standpoint, I think this is another change for the worse," said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst at Poynter.
The proposed change may be a response to pressure to continue a growth pattern, but the 140-character limit and the chronological display were what made Twitter distinctive, he told TechNewsWorld.