Twitter gives us 280 characters, and says we’ll rarely need them

In September, Twitter announced that it was testing something that some people have been asking for nearly as long as there’s been a Twitter: the ability to tweet 280 characters instead of the iconic-but-limiting 140. The company says that the experiment has gone well and that it’s now rolling out the increase to all users—with the exception of those who tweet in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, who have already been able to cram more into 140 characters than the rest of us.

280-character tweets

For fans of Twitter’s spare efficiency as a communications medium, the nightmare scenario would be if double the characters led to timelines that were twice as verbose. Twitter says that the test period wasn’t like that at all. Only 5% of tweets sent by people with access to 280 characters were over 140 characters; 2% were over 190 characters; and just 1% hit the new 280-character ceiling. We’ll see whether that pattern continues once the rest of us gain access to the additional elbow room.