Twitter looks at expanding 140-character limit to encourage ‘expression’

There's already a Chrome extension for those truly offended by longer tweets

It’s the end of an era. On Tuesday, September 25, micro-blogging juggernaut Twitter lifted its longtime limit on tweets for a small group of beta testers. Instead of the traditional 140 characters per tweet, those users get 280 characters.

Aliza Rosen, Twitter’s product manager, claimed that the 140-character limit “[was] a major cause of frustration,” and that users who don’t have to worry about it typically tweet more. “When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people tweeting,” she wrote in a blog post.

Twitter’s character limit was originally designed for compatibility with SMS cellphone messaging, the Twitter app’s first supported medium, and became one of its defining characteristics. The first 20 of the 160 characters were originally reserved for the username, but Twitter has since carved out exemptions for it and other embedded forms of media including images, videos, attachments, and links.

Rosen said that the character 140-character limit disproportionately impacted users of English, which requires more characters to convey the same meaning as compared to denser, more expressive languages like Japanese. Japanese Twitter users butt up against the 140-character limit just 0.4 percent of the time, according to Twitter, compared to 9 percent of the time for English users.

“[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, Spanish, Portuguese, or French,” Rosen said.

It’s not the first time Twitter has experimented with expanded tweet lengths. In 2016, the social network considered introducing tweets up to 10,000 characters in length before ultimately deciding against it, according to Recode. And in early September, it began testing a “tweetstorm” feature that let users draft multiple tweets as part of a single thread.

Twitter says it won’t flip the switch on expanded character limits right away. Instead, it will collect data over the next few months before rolling the test out to other “languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).”

“Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone,” Rosen said. “What matters most is that this works for our community – we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to tweet.”

Of course, there are people who are up in arms about the possible change, and as such, there already exists a Chrome extension to help you block any tweets longer than 140 characters (if brevity is really your thing). You can install Block280 and have it collapse any tweet that is longer than 140 characters. As per creator Conor Browne‘s commentary on the extension’s Product Hunt page, he created the tool in response to the many complaints he saw about the longer tweets. Who knew people felt so strongly about being concise online?

Update: If having 280-character tweets really upsets you, go ahead and install Block280, a new Chrome extension. 

Movies & TV

Loki, Scarlet Witch, other Marvel characters to headline series on Disney Play

Loki, Scarlet Witch, and various other characters from Marvel's cinematic universe could be getting their own live-action series on Disney's streaming service when it launches in 2019. The actors from the movies will reprise their roles.
Social Media

A lot less clutter! Twitter relaunches purely chronological timeline

If you still miss the reverse-chronological timeline that Twitter ditched two years ago and you're fed up with all of the extra algorithmic tweets appearing in your feed, there's now a way to return it to how it used to be.
Movies & TV

'Venom' is all tooth and tongue in the latest movie posters

Tom Hardy will play the lead role in Sony Pictures' Venom. Here's everything we know about the solo feature for the popular Spider-Man spinoff character ahead of the film's 2018 premiere in theaters.
Social Media

Twitter makes it easier to find and watch live broadcasts

Twitter is making further efforts to promote livestreams and broadcasts on its service. Rolling out globally, live video broadcasts from accounts that you follow will now appear at the top of your timeline.
Social Media

Facebook expands fact-checking net to try to catch doctored photos and videos

Facebook is now fact-checking images and video along with articles, using third-party organizations. New A.I. helps flag potential fakes for human review, but user flags and comments still help recognize what content might not be accurate.
Social Media

New to Snapchat? Follow our guide and go from newbie to pro

Whether you're a Snapchat addict or a newbie, our detailed Snapchat guide will help you become a pro in no time. Find out how to get started, spice up your snaps, chat, send money, and carry out a host of other useful actions.
Smart Home

Restaurants may soon have chefs who know all about you before you walk in the door

At Seattle’s Addo, chef Eric Rivera gives pop-up-style restaurants a permanent home, and he leverages everything from Instagram to a ticketing service to bring in customers.
Social Media

How to run a free background check

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for carrying out a background check, and not all of them are creepy. Here are several methods that allow you to run a thorough background check on someone online, whether you need to vet a potential…

Instagram’s shopping stickers for businesses see wide rollout

As the Stories format continues to grow, Instagram is allowing users to shop the items inside a Stories photo or video. Instagram recently expanded stickers that let people shop inside a Story by tapping on the sticker.
Social Media

Facebook is paying cash rewards if you find vulnerabilities in third-party apps

As part of efforts to put the Cambridge Analytica scandal and related issues behind it, Facebook said this week it's expanding its bug bounty program to include third-party apps and websites that could potentially misuse its data.

Facebook appears set on crafting custom silicon for augmented reality devices

Facebook's latest job postings are seeking engineers and developers for custom augmented reality chipsets, and seem to support speculation that the company is looking to produce AR glasses.
Social Media

How to turn off Snapchat’s location-based Snap Map

Thanks to an opt-in feature added last year, Snapchat may be sharing your location with friends whenever you open it. Here, we'll walk you through how to turn off said feature off and regain some peace of mind.
Social Media

How to send money on Facebook

In case you weren't already aware, you can now use Facebook Messenger to send or request money, which will allow you to skirt the fees oft-associated with services like Venmo. Here's how to use it.
Smart Home

Is Amazon tweaking its search algorithms with a new A.I.-driven shopping site?

Amazon is testing a new shopping site, Amazon Scout, which combines a visual aesthetic with customers' ability to like and dislike products, collecting more data on users' habits and preferences.