Twitter officially doubles the character limit to 280 for all users

Twitter is rolling out the new character limit following a global trial

Twitter is officially doubling its character limit from 140 to 280, with the change set to roll out globally in the next few days.

The announcement comes just a few months after Twitter started testing a 280-character limit for a set number of users around the globe, courting concern from users who were worried that banishing brevity would clog up their timelines.

From Twitter's perspective early tests have been a success, with the social giant noting that where historically 9% of tweets in English used to hit the character limit, this dropped to just 1% when the 280-limit was applied.

The change will affect all users apart from those using Japanese, Chinese or Korean versions of the app; this is because they are less likely to need the extra space due to the formation of these alphabets.

Twitter claims that its initial experiment showed that people who had more room to tweet received "more engagement" ie tweets, retweets and likes – something that's likely to be a draw for brands who use the platform natively.

The firm also said that people who partook in the trial said they felt more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, and the ability to sift through content. Given the platform's struggle to attract new users in recent years, Twitter is likely hoping this move will help it overcome sluggish growth up its daily user count from the current 330 million.

Banishing brevity

One of the initial criticisms leveled at Twitter was that longer posts would ruin the user experience. However, in a blog post published on Tuesday (7 November) the company was quick to assuage its community, saying that only 5% of tweets sent by users selected for testing were longer than 140 characters and that just 2% were over 190 characters.

Aliza Rosen, product manager at Twitter said: "We – and many of you – were 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 didn’t happen... for reference, in the timeline, Tweets with an image or poll usually take up more space than a 190 character Tweet."

When the trial initially launched, many users who had been gifted the extra characters used them to poke fun at the whole concept by way of much wordier messages. In the announcement today Twitter said this was because the function was "new and novel" and that this creative behaviour "normalised" soon after.

Since returning as chief executive in 2016, Jack Dorsey has made several major changes to Twitter. Earlier this year, the firm announced it would stop counting photos and links as part of the 140-character limit.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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