You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Twitter Starts Experimenting With 280-Character Tweets, But Exempts Korean, Japanese and Chinese

Twitter is taking another step towards getting rid of the 140-character limit for tweets: The company announced Tuesday afternoon that it is beginning to test 280-character tweets with a small subset of its users. However, Twitter won’t test the new character limit with users who tweet in Korean, Chinese or Japanese.

Earlier attempts by the company to go beyond 140 characters were met with loud protests by a small but vocal group of its users, leading the company to backpedal on plans to add much longer text post. Instead, it slowly introduced tweaks to make the 140-character limit less rigid by excepting links, user names and more.

That’s why on Tuesday, Twitter tried to assure its users that little would change, even with the potential of twice-as-long tweets on the horizon. A blog post announcing the tests read, in part:

“Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change.”

Twitter originally introduced the 140-character limit to adhere to the official limit for SMS text messages. Phone companies around the world have been limiting SMS messages to 160 characters; by keeping its own messaging limit at 140 characters, Twitter could relay an entire tweet, plus the name of a its sender, in a single SMS.

Over time, SMS became less important to Twitter as most of its users transitioned to smart phones capable of running Twitter’s mobile apps. However, some users have argued that Twitter would lose its appeal, and turn into a kind of Facebook knock-off, if it allowed longer messages.

This balancing act between keeping Twitter’s base happy and innovating on some of its core features may also have been one reason why the company tried to justify its new tests with a number of internal data points. 9% of all English-language tweets hit Twitter’s 140-character limit, according to this data, while only 0.4% of all tweets in Japanese hit the same limit.

Similar differences could be noticed for Korean and Japanese, which is why the company exempted these three languages from the 140-character tests. “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” the blog post explained.

Twitter also tried to use comparative linguistics to explain how it arrived at the new 280-character limit it is now testing: “Languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.”

To give everyone the same freedom to express themselves, Twitter decided to double the amount of characters for all languages except Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, or so the logic goes. It remains to be seen whether this is enough to placate staunch defenders of the 140-character limit, or whether Twitter  instead stumbled upon a way to offend even more people with these tests.

More Digital

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

  • Skyline of Doha at night with

    Qatar's beIN Rallies Support From U.S. Companies Against Pirate Broadcaster beoutQ

    Qatari powerhouse beIN Media Group has rallied support from American sports and entertainment entities, including Discovery and Fox, behind its request that the U.S. government place Saudi Arabia on its watch list of top intellectual property offenders. The Doha-based broadcaster, a state-owned spinoff of Al Jazeera news network, accuses the Saudi government of harboring pirate broadcaster [...]

  • Carlos SlimMexican tycoon Carlos Slim participates

    Carlos Slim’s America Movil Looks to Invest $8.5 Billion in Latin America This Year

    América Móvil general director Daniel Hajj has announced that Carlos Slim’s Mexican conglomerate plans to invest $8.5 billion in Latin American in 2019, focusing primarily on fiber-optic infrastructure and updated mobile technologies such as 4.5G and 5gG. In a conference call with analysts, following the company’s recap of fourth quarter results, Hajj laid out the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content