Twitter is experimenting with raising the character limit of Tweets from 140 to 280.
The company is giving some users the feature to start out with so they can collect feedback. They explain in a blog post that many English speaking users struggled to create enough room for their Tweets without resorting to the common practice of cutting out words, creating Twitter threads, posting pictures with longer text blocks, or committing grammatical errors. In fact, 9 percent of all English Tweets hit the 140 character limit. They said that character limit is a major cause for frustration for people Tweeting in English, and that people who don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters tweet more. They said that most Tweets in English has 34 characters while most Tweets in Japanese contain 15 characters, and as such the change will be affecting all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
You can see the longer Tweets in action with this tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:
Many people have flocked to – what else? – Twitter to voice their concern for the increase in character limit. Many argue that doubling the character limit won’t stop harassment from occurring on the service, and may in fact lead to more as users have more space to spew hate. People were especially concerned with President Donald Trump getting more space to say the things he says. Others said that they would prefer an edit button to fix mistakes instead of deleting a Tweet and starting over.
This is just a small sample of the response to the 280 character limit:
As Wired reports, Twitter has gained a reputation for being lax on harassment, with attacks occurring frequently and not much happening to combat the problem. However, Twitter did release anti-harassment tools in November 2016 to mute conversation threads and filter keywords. In January 2017, Twitter’s General Manager of Consumer Product and Engineering Ed Ho promised to address the problem in a series of updates.
Twitter has appeared to make progress in reducing harassment. Twitter is taking action on “ten times the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year,” Ho told Wired. They’ve suspended and limited the reach of thousands more abusive accounts each day and new tech was able to remove twice the number of repeat offenders who create a new account after having one banned. However, they didn’t disclose the year-over-year drop in total abuse reports or release any kind of baseline.
Harassment on Twitter still occurs regularly despite Twitter’s efforts. A July 2017 report by BuzzFeed News found 27 examples of clear violations of Twitter’s rules – including unauthorized publishing of personal information, threats of physical violence, and extensive, targeted harassment – that were not considered violations by the social network. The people who reported the harassment simply received a form email saying that the harassment did not violate their terms. BuzzFeed News then received 89 direct messages from users alleging that they received at least one improper dismissal of their harassment claim.
The above Tweet is an example of the harassment found on Twitter, which was dismissed by Twitter. After the Tweet gained over 6,200 Retweets, Twitter reversed its ruling and the harassing account was suspended as BuzzFeed News reports. A Twitter engineer apologized for the situation.
What do you think of Twitter’s 280 character limit? Let us know in the comment section below.