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.

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