Twitter announced a new test project allowing tweets to expand to 280-characters, doubling the existing limit. It will be a major shift for the messaging platform known for its 140-character tweets; which the company aims to address the "major cause of frustration" for many users.
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey fired off what may be one of the first expanded tweets. "This is a small change, but a big move for us," he wrote. "140 was an arbitrary choice... Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet."
"Trying to cram your thoughts into a tweet -- we've all been there, and it's a pain," product manager Aliza Rosen and software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said in a blog post. "We're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming."
Twitter planned to leave the old limit in place for tweets in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean because internal data showed written characters in those languages packed plenty into the allocated space. Twitter, which became a public company in 2013, has never reported a profit even though it has built a loyal base of celebrities, journalists and political figures, including prolific tweeter US President Donald Trump.
In its most recent quarter, Twitter reported its base of monthly active users was unchanged at 328 million compared to the first three months of the year and up just five percent from a year earlier. Its growth has failed to keep pace with the social network leader Facebook, which has some two billion users, and Facebook-owned Instagram, with 800 million.
It remains an open question whether the new tweet limit would ignite the growth an engagement Twitter needs to compete in the fast-moving social media segment.