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280 characters

Twitter is currently experimenting with longer tweets: 280 characters instead of its famous 140.

One of the reasons they are doing this (besides the obvious goal of getting people to tweet more) is because different languages require a different number of characters in order to get the same message across.

Here is a graph that Twitter published alongside their announcement:


I have never really given this any thought (perhaps because I don’t write or speak Japanese), but I find it interesting that Twitter’s arbitrary 140 character limit has been arguably impacting cultures differently. I wonder if there are subtle use case differences because of it.

The other fascinating thing about this possible change is the backlash that is now mounting from users. People are freaking out, which I suppose some would argue is what most people do on Twitter anyways.

But a similar thing is happening regarding Instagram after word got out that they were testing a new 4-photo grid (as opposed to the current 3-photo grid). 

And let’s not forget that there was also a time when Instagram’s square cropped photos would have been considered sacrosanct. Most people have probably already forgotten about that.

I mention all of this because, though it may seem small, this is actually a big change for Twitter. And change can be hard to accept, even if it doesn’t come in the form of an 8 storey condo building. It can also be hard to stand up when everyone is telling you that what you are doing is stupid.

Maybe this is stupid, in which case the experiment will prove that out. Maybe it will reveal something positive that nobody could have predicted. Or maybe we’ll all just forget what life was like with only 140 characters.

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