"This is a small change, but a big move for us," Twitter's CEO just tweeted.
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
I'm not sure I would describe Twitter's "essence" the same way Jack would—I consider Twitter's essence bile, bullshit, horrible news, bad jokes, good jokes, manipulation, links to good writing, poetry, and porn—but this is happening, whether you like it or not.
As Twitter puts it (in a piece confusingly bylined by two people though sometimes they refer to themselves in first person and sometimes in third):
Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain.
Interestingly, this isn't a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.
We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).
It goes on ("We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters—we felt it, too..." god, shut up) but let's leave that there for now and walk out into Twitter and see how folks are responding:
twitter to world: hey, why not make it a double
world: please god no we are already incredibly fucked up
— Melville House (@melvillehouse) September 26, 2017
The 280-character limit is a terrible idea. The whole beauty of Twitter is that it forces you to express your ideas concisely (1/47)
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 26, 2017
things twitter needs
1) sane moderation
2) better threading/content management
99) higher character limit
— Calendar Updates (@rossleonardy) September 26, 2017
Twitter users: no Nazis or trolls, add edit tweet button, protect our privacy, don't let us get nuked
Twitter: bad tweets are now 2x longer
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) September 26, 2017
Goddamn it, I was just about to publish a novel called "140 Characters."
— ChristopherFrizzelle (@TheFrizzelle) September 26, 2017