By: Alain Sherter | CBS News
September 27, 2017
Brevity may get a little less brief on Twitter.
The social media company said Tuesday that it will start testing tweets up to 280 characters long, twice the current limit. Some Twitter users have long urged the microblogging service to enable extended posts.
"We understand, since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters -- we felt it, too," said Aliza Rosen, a product manager at Twitter, in a post on the company's blog. "But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint."
The 280-character limit test comes as the number of new Twitter users has stalled. Twitter refreshed the site in June in a move to make its platform faster and easier to use, but the redesign was met with mixed reviews, according to CNET.
Twitter has roughly 328 million monthly active users, compared with more than 2 billion for social medial giant Facebook.
Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters? 🤔— Twitter (@Twitter) September 26, 2017
We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280! Excited about the possibilities? Read our blog to find out how it all adds up. 👇https://t.co/C6hjsB9nbL
Twitter did not say how many of its users would be allowed to experiment with the expanded character limit, saying that it's available only to a small group.
One reason for the change: It's easier to be succinct in some languages than in others. And notably for an American company, English-speakers are at a disadvantage compared with people from other countries. For example, a much larger percentage of English-language tweets consume all 140 characters than tweets written in Japanese, Rosen noted.
"Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English, but it is not for those tweeting in Japanese," she said. "Also, in all markets, when people don't have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people tweeting – which is awesome!"
Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said Twitter will collect data and feedback over the course of the test.
Although an internet sensation when it went public in 2013, Twitter has failed to take flight as a business. It continues to lose money, and its stock, which ended Tuesday at $16.59, is parked well below a closing-day price of $44.90 after its ballyhooed initial public offering nearly four years ago.
As a result, a new character limit might amount to just "another baby step" for Twitter as it seeks jump-start growth, eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson told CNET.