Twitter Is Finally Letting Some Users Tweet With as Many as 280 Characters

The company says limitations will vary by language

For the first time ever, the social platform is letting some users test 280-character tweets. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Silicon Valley’s beloved blue bird is getting ready to tweet longer than ever before.

Few things have defined Twitter more than its 140-character limit per post. But now, the San Francisco-based company is getting ready to do the unthinkable—double the number of characters. Starting today, the platform will let a small number of people tweet with as many as 280 characters in most languages while still keeping the traditional count for character-based languages such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

In a blog post published today, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen and senior software engineer Ikuhiro Ihara said some languages are more limited by the count than others. For example, tweets in Japanese use all 140 characters just .4 percent of the time, while tweets in English use the max 9 percent of the time. According to Rosen and Ihara, Japanese tweets usually only have 15 characters, while the average in English is 34.

According to Twitter, the limitations can often be frustrating for those who don’t feel like they can get their points or emotions across—potentially causing them to tweet less than they otherwise would.

Earlier this year, Twitter took steps to ease the 140-character frustration by allowing handles and links to not count toward the overall character count. However, it’s unclear how users will react to plans to let the platform become overall a little more verbose.

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too,” Rosen and Ihara wrote. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.”

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.