It’s official: After a brief test last month, Twitter is raising its iconic 140-character limit to 280. The move is the struggling social network’s latest attempt at encouraging people to post more by removing arbitrary text limits (the 140 came from SMS character limitations no longer relevant in the smartphone age).
Lest you worry that this might ruin the breakneck pace of Twitter discourse, the company has stats to point out that this isn’t the case. According to product manager Aliza Rosen, “We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.” In other words, people who needed the extra space took it, but most people didn’t. Most tweets still hover around 50 characters.
The reason this is important for Twitter is that by giving users a little bit more space to talk, they spend less time trying to condense their thoughts, and more time just, well, talking. More interaction and more engagement means more users and more advertising revenue. This is helpful for English-speaking users, and as a caveat, posts in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese, which have historically never struggled with the amount of writing space, will remain at the 140-character limit.
The changes are rolling out soon, so you’ll be able to annoy your followers (or curse out Nazis) with a few more choice words.