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Bye Bye Brevity – Twitter’s Move to 280

Twitter's Move to 280 (2)

After testing an increase of characters on some of its users, Twitter have finally made the move to 280, doubling the number of letters and punctuation in a tweet for everyone.

All Twitter users have experienced the horror of having the best moment of their life that they know their followers will love and realise, after getting half way through their story, that they’ve run out of characters to finish the tweet. However, brevity was the unique signing-up point of Twitter; people avoided the lengthy speeches of friends and instead could follow celebrities and strangers whose lives intrigued them in small amounts.

The World in 140

Interestingly, the 140 characters format was based on text messages – SMS messages are 160 per page, so the idea was that a user’s tweet and username amounted to the number of letters and numbers of a text. This provided a more personal relationship between user and follower. However, people who tweeted in languages other than Japanese and Chinese struggled to stay in the one-text limit. Users who typed in Spanish and English often complained that there wasn’t enough space to say what they wanted to, whereas Korean users could convey twice as much in their language when tweeting. Research carried out by Twitter found that running out of space was a significant cause of frustration for English-speaking handlers.

Good News for Businesses

Twitter’s move to 280 characters opens up a whole new world to people who rant, but also people who want to market their businesses. It can be hard to sell your product in 140 characters or less, so businesses now have the chance to express their goods with more detail and get the chance to provide direct links to their website and products. However, the lack of words meant companies provided much more concise and important information of their services rather than a direct sale babble, so it’ll be interesting to see if businesses will utilise the increase in characters.

Tweet for a Change

Instead of the usual numbers that decreased after every letter, a cyclical bar now turns white the more you type. Having to reduce what you wanted to say made Twitter a novelty among comics, who could share humourous quotes instantly. Twitter was a break from the life stories that were shared on other social media sites such as Facebook. It also aided the idea of photos with captions and short videos. However, Twitter’s move to 280 is a big step towards freedom of speech and allowing users to express themselves even more.

The Wrong Direction

Many have complained that the length of the tweets is the least of Twitter users’ worries. Twitter is a hub of opinions and views and a platform for people to use their voice. However, not every user’s tweets are positive. Some people use the social podium to abuse others or express derogatory ideas. People have suggested that Twitter consider monitoring negative behaviour, even more so than they already do, than giving people more space to harass users.

Twitter have expressed that the amount of characters is still limited with brief constraints, so there should be no concern for those who enjoyed the compact style. Nevertheless, Twitter’s move to 280 is good news for people that send a two-page rant via text and are tired of cramming their thoughts into dictated, often grammatically incorrect, tweets.