China’s Sina Weibo beats Twitter past the 140-characters mark

sina weibo post characters 123rf
Liu Bing/123RF
Popular Chinese social network and microblogging site, Sina Weibo, is scrapping its 140-character limit, putting into practice what Twitter is rumored to be doing itself.

Sina Weibo’s CEO, Wang Gaofei, confirmed the change on the Twitter-like platform via an open letter. The statement read that the service will begin testing posts of up to 2,000 characters for “senior users” and developers starting January 28, rolling out to all users exactly a month later, on February 28.

“According to Weibo’s big data, only about 10 percent of original posts surpass 120 Chinese characters,” a spokesperson for the company told the South China Morning Post by email. “But we are extending the text limit to offer greater choice and a better user experience.”

Like Twitter, the 140-character limit is integral to the Chinese microblogging platform – which tech followers in the West will be familiar with due to the obscene amount of (unreliable) smartphone image leaks that find their way onto it.

For Twitter users, Weibo’s decision to quickly implement the modification indicates how it could materialize on its Western counterpart. According to Wang’s post, the test run will see the same 140-character length posts appear on timelines – additional text content will be viewable via a link that reveals the entirety of the post.

Twitter will reportedly take a similar approach if it decides to abolish 140 characters on its platform. In the midst of a bad week for the social network, which has seen global service outages, plummeting share prices, and takeover rumors, it is thought that Twitter will be more eager than ever to start shaking things up.

Despite local competition from Tencent’s WeChat app, Sina Weibo has amassed a large user base in China. The service has reportedly come under fire of late over its self-censorship policies that have seen it remove user posts deemed “politically insensitive” by the government.

Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Movies & TV

Star Wars series 'The Mandalorian' adds 'Deadpool' actress Gina Carano

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Computing

An IP address vulnerability took down some Google services for 1 hour

It might have been for just a brief hour, but some of Google's services went down on November 12. Caused by an improper rerouting of IP addresses and traffic away from usual western sources, Spotify and Google Cloud were impacted.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.
News

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.