Twitter, the microblogging platform used by everyone from President Donald Trump to your neighbor down the street, announced a major change on Tuesday afternoon: the 140-character limit for tweets, which is almost entirely the source of Twitter's appeal, would be doubled to 280. The change was announced by the @Twitter account.
Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters? ??— Twitter (@Twitter) September 26, 2017
We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280! Excited about the possibilities? Read our blog to find out how it all adds up. ??https://t.co/C6hjsB9nbL
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called this a "small change, but a big move for us," and pointed out that the previous character limit was based off of the then-160 character limit for SMS texts.
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Co-founder Biz Stone said that the updated limit was an issue of fairness (as languages are different) and that the platform will now be "testing the limits."
Originally, our constraint was 160 (limit of a text) minus username. But we noticed @biz got 1 more than @jack. For fairness, we chose 140. Now texts are unlimited. Also, we realize that 140 isn't fair—there are differences between languages. We're testing the limits. Hello 280!— Biz Stone (@biz) September 26, 2017
Needless to say, people were not thrilled by the changes:
The thing twitter is good at is concise news presented most-recent first. Twitter is as ever dead-set on ruining that core functionality.— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) September 26, 2017
Repeal and replace this https://t.co/iY2Xq8JvR6— Ben Goodman (@BenGoodman) September 26, 2017
No. God, no. https://t.co/oiHDd8oUYc— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 26, 2017
It turns out that 2017 can get worse after all. https://t.co/7O0HhPmN37— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) September 26, 2017
This is 280 characters exactly. COINCIDENCE???? pic.twitter.com/YkkDBgPhRw— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) September 26, 2017
twitter users: let us edit tweets— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) September 26, 2017
twitter: we made everything round
users: edit button
twitter: everyone is allowed to be twice as annoying
I, for one, wholeheartedly support Jack in his effort to destroy Twitter. https://t.co/2OzWKrpmIp— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) September 26, 2017
Hardest hit: everybody whose timeline will now be filled with Chelsea Manning's endless string of emojis. https://t.co/P5ZQfwNaxX— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 26, 2017
Yashar Ali said it best: All we wanted was for links not to count against characters. THAT WAS ALL WE WANTED.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 26, 2017
This is certainly an odd move for a platform that's already bleeding users. People appreciate the brevity of tweets--it forces people to pare down superfluous thoughts into something concise. This is the opposite of what everyone wanted.
Seriously Twitter, an edit button. That's all we need.