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Not short and tweet: Twitter expands character limit to 280 for most languages

08-November-2017
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Not short and tweet: Twitter expands character limit to 280 for most languages

Twitter today announced that it is extending the 140 character limit to 280 characters in all languages where cramming was an issue.* For India and the Indian diaspora, this update will apply to the six regional languages supported on the platform - Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.

In September, Twitter launched a test that expanded the 140 character limit to enable every person around the world to express themselves easily in a Tweet. Twitter’s goal was to make that possible while maintaining the speed and brevity that makes it unique.

During the first few days of the test, many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after, the behavior normalized (see below). Twitter 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.

Highlights are below and in Twitter’s additional blogs about the experimentation process, extensive data analysis, research, and design work.

Easier to Tweet
Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since Twitter saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, it believes people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that 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. This can be seen happening in the graph below:

**
Keeping Twitter’s brevity
Twitter was concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space, but that did not happen. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, the timeline reading experience on Twitter should not substantially change, and people will see about the same amount of Tweets in their timeline. For reference, in the timeline, Tweets with an image or poll usually take up more space than a 190 character Tweet.

Engagement
In addition to more Tweeting, people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter. People in the experiment said that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.

Twitter is making this change after listening and observing a problem its global community was facing in terms of Tweeting, studying data to understand how it could improve, trying it out, and listening to people’s feedback. Twitter will continue listening and work to make Twitter easier for everyone, while making sure it keeps what people love.

*Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will continue to have 140 characters because cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their Tweets because of the density of their writing systems. Twitter shared more about this thinking and the research here.

**On this graph, there is a small bump in the red line (which represents the group with 280 characters) at 140 because these people were also using older Twitter clients which didn’t have the ability to send longer Tweets, so they continued to hit the 140 character limit. This graph is for English-only Tweets.

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