Twitter users may soon be able to use more characters to convey more thorough thoughts in their tweets. In a blog post, Twitter employees announced that they are testing allowing larger 288 character tweets. Selected users are able to try the new expanded tweets now, others will have to wait until after testing. This expansion doubles the current 140 character limit, which has been the limit on Twitter since its inception.

Increasing the limit is not just a random decision, but one based on research. As explained in the blog post, the 140 character limit doesn’t work as well in all languages. The example used is a comparison between English, Spanish and Japanese. The English tweet came in at exactly 140 characters. In Spanish it came in at 154, exceeding the current limit. In Japanese, however, the tweet came in at 67 characters. This represents a significant difference.

Comparison of tweets

Comparison of the same tweet in 3 languages. (Credit: Twitter)

The reason for this is that one character in Japanese can express what would be multiple letters in English.  An example of this is the word colleague. In English this word is 9 characters.  By contrast, one of the words for colleague in  Japanese is douryou (dōryō). This is represented in multiples ways, such as,  同僚 in Kanji or どうりょう in Hiragana, with Kanji being two characters, and Hiragana, being five.  The same is true of some other Asian languages such as Korean, and Chinese.  As a result Twitter has realized that there is an advantage to increasing the character count for western languages. Asian languages like Japanese, won’t have the benefit of expanded tweets. This is because the current limit allows for their effective use.

As pointed out by a cleverly titled article on CNET, this is just a small step by Twitter improve itself. The management at Twitter is actively working to, hopefully, get more users.  Currently Twitter has around 328 million users, a sizable number for sure.  Facebook, however, has over 2 billion users, a number nearly 6 times that of Twitter. Experts feel that a far larger problem that needs attention from Twitter is abuse. This is seen as a major barrier to increasing their user base.  Despite Twitter’s recent efforts, things like bullying, spam, hacking, and fake news, still run rampant. Users on reddit also have some pretty interesting takes on the change, the majority ranging from indifference to scorn.

I don’t know if Twitter will gain any market share because of this change, most likely not. There are other issues affecting Twitters success that defiantly need addressing. In fact, many users may, actually, dislike the change. I feel that the people who do enjoy the platform, also enjoy its brevity. I have never much been a tweeter, however it does have its place. It has proven useful to send short messages from events, and, the live streaming service is pretty awesome too. I guess we will all see what the future will hold for Twitter.

Oh, if you really can’t wait for 280 characters, SlashGear has methods you can use immediately.