Our Tweets Are Getting Shorter

A scientific study of tweets shows they’ve become shorter since 2009. What’s going on?

Our Tweets Are Getting Shorter
[Image: Flickr user Mason Bryant]

Not surprisingly, the way we tweet has changed since 2009. A study from the University of the Philippines reveals the average length of tweets has shrunk significantly.

The team looked at nearly 230 million tweets between September 2009 and December 2012, and then did some statistical analysis. Their findings are fascinating: There’s one peak in length near the 140-character limit, probably because tweeters are adjusting the length of their tweets to fit into the limit. But there’s also a peak in the 10-20 character length range.

This lower peak has actually slipped down to 10 from 20 over the three years of data, and the median word count has gone from eight to five. Essentially, tweeters are using the service for shorter and shorter messages, and the team estimates this is connected to more use of jargon, possibly even region-specific jargon. “It may be that we’re all using much more jargon in our tweets and that this represents a fundamental change in the way we communicate,” writes Technology Review. “Then again, we may just be learning how to use Twitter more efficiently. At some level, perhaps those things are even equivalent.”

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