Twitter has begun trialling 280 character-length tweets, double the traditional 140, in a bid to attract more users to the struggling platform.
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey suggested that the move would help users better express themselves, by tweeting a verbose 280-character tweet announcing the trial.
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
The move is being trialled by select users in all countries, with the exception of Japan. If the trial is deemed successful, the company will roll it out to all users at a later date.
This 'small group of users, that are going to be allowed 280 characters'. All going to be blue tick wankers, aren't they? #280characters— Trubs (@Mr_Trubshawe) September 27, 2017
Twitter was designed ten years ago in the age of the 160-character SMS text message, and intended to convey short, sharp messages that could be embedded in web pages, convey alerts and so on. Many users, though, resort to linked 'threads' to convey longer thoughts/ramblings/nonsense.
Twitter should be arrested for trying to assassinate the president. They've just given Trump enough rope to hang himself with #280characters— Tom Davis (@TDavisOfficial) September 27, 2017
In a blog post announcing the trial, Twitter explains that the move will level the playing field compared to languages such as Chinese and Japanese where the same Tweet can take just a few characters.
It explains: "Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone.
Why does Twitter need to expand the tweet length to #280characters ?— Danny (@DannyCalidonia) September 27, 2017
If you can't express your point in 140 characters you're clearly a mor
"What matters most is that this works for our community - we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We're hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet"
Twitter has been losing ground to other platforms, particularly Instagram, and a resurgent Facebook which is enjoying something of a renaissance as Generation Z resigns itself to the fact that their parents are all on there too. Meanwhile, Twitter and Snapchat remain sluggish.
You are a company without a clear business model, with an increasingly toxic product and it's getting noisy. What do you do?#280characters— Mark O'Neill (@marxculture) September 27, 2017
Although relatively popular in the UK and US, Twitter is still struggling to attract users and struggles to return a consistent profit. It floated in 2014, but hasn't been able to emulate the success of Facebook.
The decision is an extension of the earlier experiment to discount Twitter handles and hashtags from replies, enabling more to be shoe-horned into the 140 characters allowed.
Users have traditionally been resistant to change, but have nevertheless stuck with it.
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