Here’s how to take advantage of Twitter’s new 280-character limit

Twitter Inc. is tentatively giving certain users – those who are chosen and others who resort to subterfuge – more room to express themselves.

The social media icon announced Wednesday that it was doubling the number of characters “a small group” could use in a single tweet, from 140 characters to 280, though multiple users have already discovered workarounds that lets desktop users temportarily access the new limit.

In a Sept. 27 post on the official Twitter blog, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen said that while the feature has only been released to a limited number of users for the time being, the company wanted to be transparent about why it was implementing the change.

“Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English,” she wrote, adding that “in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people tweeting.”

Noting that she herself has felt constrained by the 140-character limit, Rosen wrote that according to Twitter’s research, the challenges faced by English users in writing tweets of suitable enough brevity is shared by users of other Latin alphabet-based languages, including French, Spanish, and Portuguese – but not Kanji-based languages such as Japanese, Chinese, or Korean.

In fact, as illustrated by the below graph, only 0.4 per cent of tweets in Japanese have 140 characters, while in English nine per cent do, she wrote. Moreover, the average Japanese tweet runs 15 characters, while the average English tweet runs for 34.

Courtesy Twitter

“In 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,” Rosen wrote. “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter.”

Showing the same tweet in different languages (click for a larger version).

And if you want to be included?

Thankfully there are multiple workarounds, including a TamperMonkey script and Chrome developer tools-based approach for readers who, like this writer, were not included in the initial control group.

The easiest one to use was shared with The Next Web by developer Juliette Pretot, who developed a link on her website that lets users increase their character limit simply by clicking a bookmark before writing a tweet using Tweetdeck.

Courtesy Juliette Pretot

Step 2: Go to Tweetdeck.

Step 3: Click the bookmark (which is Javascript-based and cannot be accessed from outside Pretot’s website), and use Tweetdeck to compose a tweet.


Let the jokes begin

Of course, in writing this news, we feel it would be downright tragic if we failed to acknowledge the two obvious jokes every other user appears to be making – the one about never having experienced the problem before…

…And the one about the platform’s most famous user:

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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