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Twitter increases to 280 characters, but at what cost?

Posted by: Thomas Harrison-Lord on 2 October 2017

On 9th September 2017, it was my 9-year Twitter anniversary. Nearly a decade tweeting about cars, video games, technology, cars, music, film and cars. I have not solved the world’s problems by tweeting, but I’ve enjoyed it.

Over that time much has changed. Amongst the changes, pictures no longer counted towards the 140 character count, the micro-blogging site started to automatically shorten URLs, profile pictures became round, Justin Bieber was a thing and you could chain responses together.

But the 140 character limit remained the same.

I certainly never longed for an increase. The 140 limit was arbitrary but also gave the platform its own distinct taste. Sure, an edit button would be nice, further abuse controls a step forward or a modern re-design could have gone down a treat.

Extending the character count from 140 to 280. I’m not entirely sure that was needed.

As it stands, the increased limit is a test, rolled out to certain users. My private work test account has it, but not my personal account, nor any of the client accounts we handle.

It is safe to say that those who are privy to the new feature have been, well, experimenting.

One is funny, the other frankly annoying. On the whole, I don’t think Twitter has ingratiated themselves with those who would like other, more important, features rolling out first.

On the plus side, those of us who are trying to cram a status update into 140 characters for a client can breathe a sigh of relief. Double the amount of space provides so much more creative freedom. We are about to see many new and interesting ways of tweeting.

I just can’t help but think, however, that the limited spaced forced people to be inventive. To think outside of the box and really boil down opinions into something snackable. As someone who is normally a strong proponent for change, this is one new Twitter feature I am not so fond of.

If a micro-blog becomes bigger, at what point does it become a blog?

The danger here is Twitter loses what makes it such a unique social media platform in the first place. We’ve already had the rather terrible idea of a jumbled timeline – which can thankfully be switched off – and the rather limited location tagging options, I hope for the long-term future of the service that 280 characters are the right decision.

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