140 Characters or Less

Twitter is mulling changes to a fundamental pillar of the social network, the 140 character limit.

140 Characters or Less

I have been using Twitter ever since March 2009. I love Twitter. It is the perfect place to share what you are doing, and discover what is happening in the world. Since its launch in July 2006, Twitter has restricted tweets to 140 characters or less. This limitation (at the time put into place because of SMS limits) over the years has resulted in clever, creative works of expression on the site.

Just yesterday, CEO Jack Dorsey announced an experiment that Twitter is conducting with a small number of users that doubles the tweet limit from 140 characters to 280 characters.

Twitter tried to justify the change as better aligning with other languages which may not hit the character limit as quickly as English does, and even claimed to maintain their brevity. However, I have found that tweets with 280 characters just seem cluttered and take up precious space in the timeline. Some tweets even abused the new feature with spam.

To me, Twitter was built around the idea of composing a tweet in 140 characters or less. Over the years, I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to convey my thoughts, ideas, and actions in a 140-character tweet. Sometimes a tweetstorm. While some users may be delighted at the prospect of 280 characters, it takes away from that excitement and uniqueness that makes Twitter the social network it is. The continued drive toward a likeness to Facebook will only push users away.

Twitter has enough issues on its plate right now. I am hoping that they will listen to their loyal users, take a look at their history, and make the right decision at the conclusion of this experiment. ■