Tech

Twitter’s #280characters

Written by Neysa Azalia

Calling all Twitter users! Twitter has finally upgraded its tweeting character limit starting November 7, 2017. The change to 280 characters is twice its previous character limit of 140 characters. Depending on how you look at this change, some are opposed to the change while some other had actually been dreaming for this day to come. Let me lay out the different perspectives in response to this change.

First of all, why the change?
Twitter had its popularity peak way back in 2009. I also remember using Twitter the most in 2009 when all my friends were tweeting and that seemed to be the trend. However, as the years progressed, Twitter lost its momentum compared to the growing number of Instagram and Facebook use. To compete with other social media platforms, Twitter has decided that upgrading to 280 characters would attract new users and increase growth. Twitter currently has 330 million active users, but lacks behind when compared to Instagram and its 800 million users and Facebook with over 2 billion users.

English, Spanish, Portuguese and/or French users are at a disadvantage compared to Korean, Chinese and Japanese users. The latter are able to express their message in shorter character amounts as single Kanji characters are able to express a variety of messages, whereas that is not the case with the former.

Opinions on the change
Many opposed the change. Some argued that the change would make timelines unreadable due to long tweets. The change was said to divert the attention from more critical societal problems that users often tweet about, such as harassment and bullying. And on a less aggressive note, some argued that this change merely contradicts one of Twitter’s defining characteristics – of fitting everything into 140 characters.

On the other hand, the negative opinions toward Twitter’s 280-character change do no represent the opinions of every Twitter user. There are some users who had actually begged for the limit to be expanded since September of this year. Important to note also is that the trial for this change began in September until November 6 – just a day before the change was announced. So, let it be known that some other Twitter users do not shy away from embracing the 280 characters.

#280characters
Twitter studied whether those who got to use the full characters for the trial got more followers, spent more time on the platform and interacted more with others. In actuality, however, only one percent reached the full tweet limit of 280 characters. Previously, when the limit was still 140 characters, over nine percent of users reached this limit. And so, the chances of users tweeting extensively would most likely occur in the beginning of this new change – when #280characters is still novel.

I personally do not mind this change; in fact I find it convenient. Not only will I be able to convey longer sentences and include more messages in my tweets, but I could also read more messages from my followings. Oh, and let’s not forget about emoji – the more space to include emoji, the more expressive (and visual) our tweets become, the better!

Cover: lonaug

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About the author

Neysa Azalia

Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Neysa aims to make the most of her experiences studying and residing 11,000 kilometres away from her country of birth. She enjoys creative storytelling through mostly visual and textual instruments.