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Twitter Testing Out New 280-Character Limit

Jenna Miller, Associate Editor

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The popular social media site Twitter was originally founded in 2006 with the intent of being used via cellular carriers’ SMS text-messaging services, which offered a 160-character limit. Tweets were limited to only 140 characters, with 20 being reserved for usernames. Since then, the 140-character limit has become one of the site’s most iconic features – but this year, it’s about to double. Twitter has started to roll out a new feature to a randomly-picked group of users beginning on Sept. 27, where they can now tweet using 280 characters since the site has, over the past decade plus one year, evolved from an SMS service to a giant social network rivaling Facebook and Instagram.

The reason why Twitter announced the new limit was to make the site a bit more “equal” for speakers of every language; studies were done on speakers of various different languages, and the results showed that the character limit was considered frustrating to speakers of languages like German and English, whereas it posed little to no problems for those who speak languages such as Japanese.

The linguistics of Japanese allow for speakers of the language to speak their minds using less characters, so the 280-character limit was rolled out so that speakers of every language could share their thoughts without getting constrained by only 140 characters. Due to this, the group of people chosen as test subjects for the new limit did not include speakers of Japanese, as well as Chinese, and Korean. However, it’s been receiving mixed reviews by the experimental group and the control group alike.

As an avid Twitter user myself, I say I wholeheartedly approve of the new 280-character limit. Even though I wasn’t chosen as one of the “guinea pigs” for the new feature, I am excited for it to be rolled out to the masses as I am very supportive of anything promoting equality. I agree that the new limit will allow me and others to share what’s on our minds without having to make multiple tweets to state only one thing.

Some people are arguing against the new limit, saying that it may cause Twitter to become overwhelming now that people will have the ability to write longer tweets, it might cause more drama as well – and who knows what Donald Trump might tweet once he gets the expanded character count?

The 280-character expansion is projected to be rolled out to every Twitter user who has their site’s interface set to any language but Chinese, Japanese, or Korean by the end of the month.

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