Twitter's defining feature has always been brevity: 140 characters was all you got. But under a new test announced Tuesday, the San Francisco tech company said it will begin giving users in much of the world twice as much room to tweet.
Tweets of 280 characters will be rolled out to a small group of users initially, Twitter said in a blog post. Users tweeting in Japanese, Chinese and Korean will continue to see a 140-character limit because Twitter said more can be conveyed in those languages in fewer characters.
The company said in the blog post that users tweeting in many languages frequently hit the character limit. "We're hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet," the company wrote.
Twitter's 140-character limit was based on the limitations of short-message service technology, also known as SMS, which is used to send text messages. SMS has largely become obsolete to Twitter users as smartphone technology has advanced.
By expanding the character limit, Twitter risks alienating its most loyal fans who have come to accept and embrace the platform's limitations.
They've done so by fostering idiosyncrasies like the tweetstorm (a series of tweets that can read like a narrative), guffawing at bad ratios (when you have significantly more angry replies than retweets) and creating, well, Twitter art.
But the social media company has been under pressure from Wall Street to jump start its user growth, which has stagnated globally at 328 million this year. It's U.S. user base has actually declined to 68 million from 70 million between the first and second quarters of 2017.
Meanwhile, the company's share price has dipped around 43% to $16.59 in the past year.
The lackluster financial performance belies the outsized influence the company has on culture, news and now potentially the future of humankind thanks to Twitter's most famous user, President Trump.
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