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280 characters on Twitter hasn’t been a game changer after all

Doubling the available character count has not fundamentally changed the nature of tweeting.

280 characters on Twitter hasn’t been a game changer after all
[Photo: Nathaniel Shuman/Unsplash]

For years before it happened, people debated whether it should. And when Twitter finally did double the maximum length of a tweet–which it did a year ago today–some of us were skittish about such a fundamental shift.

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But according to some stats the company is releasing to mark the anniversary, Twitter hasn’t changed that much in the 280-character era, aside from getting a bit more comprehensible and, maybe, polite:

  • The most commmon tweet length has actually gone down by one character, from 34 to 33
  • 88% of tweets are still 140 characters or under
  • Only 1% of tweets hit the 280 character limit
  • The use of abbreviations to save space has greatly decreased (and those who do use them, I think, look sillier than ever)
  • Use of “please” and “thank you” are up by 54% and 22% respectively

When 280 characters arrived, I intended, briefly, to stick to a personal 140-character limit. That turned out to be tough to accomplish, since Twitter also did away with the precise character counter in favor of a little circle that filled in as you typed. Today, I don’t obsess over how many characters I’m tweeting. But please, Twitter–don’t even think about upping the count to 560.

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About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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