By: Nick Gambino
Things are about to get…interesting. Twitter announced that they’re testing a 280-character limit on their platform.
Twitter has always been known for its brevity – your ideas and rants in 140 characters or less. While this has definitely set them apart from the Facebook and Instagrams of the world, this restriction doesn’t come without its frustrations. In fact, it’s most likely contributed to the stunting of the platform’s growth.
The history of the 140-character model is rooted in SMS messages which were limited to 160. But as Twitter moved away from distributing through SMS, it became more tradition than necessity.
I’ll admit it has both its pluses and minuses. A plus being that it forces the user to be more clever when it comes to choice of words. Comedians tend to thrive in this area. But for others it can be a bit of a nuisance when you’re trying to get an idea across that requires more words. You have to make the choice of leaving out some of the message or sending out a separate tweet which is not ideal.
Some have resorted to threads to tweet long messages. They simply reply to their own tweet with the next part of their message over and over again until they have a thread containing their full message. Not ideal but a nice hack if you need it.
Twitter has considered changing the length of their tweets for some time now. Just last year they were reportedly looking at increasing to a 10,000-character limit. That would have been – for the sake of brevity – a dumpster fire.
What would Twitter be with a 10,000-character limit? Just another Facebook? Luckily someone talked them off that ledge. Instead they opted for not counting images, videos, GIFs and polls toward the character count, allowing us a little more freedom.
For now, 280 characters feels like a whole new ball game. It’ll be like stepping off a bus after a 6-hour ride and no leg space. We’ll be able to stretch and not worry about that little number quickly dwindling towards zero as we reach our limit.
All languages but Japanese, Korean and Chinese will be able to avail themselves of the new character limit once it expands beyond testing. Apparently those three languages use far less characters to communicate. For example, Twitter says, “Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34.”
No word yet on when this will roll out to all users but my guess is it’ll be soon. I know one guy who sits in an oval office who can’t wait.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular scriptwriter and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.