Twitter doubled down on its character limit this week. Users of the social media platform are now able to update in 280 characters—twice the previously allotted character count.
The news isn’t going over particularly well in certain circles. At least two literary lions loathe the change.
Twitter’s destroyed its USP. The whole point, for me, was how inventive people could be within that concise framework. #Twitter280characters
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) November 8, 2017
280 characters? Fuck that.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) November 8, 2017
According to CNET, “the move comes at an awkward time for Twitter, which has been facing criticism and pressure from shareholders, Congress, President Donald Trump and everyday people who use it. Among the most-discussed complaints have been concerns that the company negligently mishandled the daily harassment some people experience on its service and that it allowed propaganda on the platform that illegally influenced the 2016 presidential election.”
Why make this change, now or ever? Was there something missing from the original configuration?
Aliza Rosen, Product Manager at Twitter argues, “We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn’t easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback.”
Her boss has more:
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Personally, I am not a fan of the new 280 character format, but it’s new so I expect attitudes to change, including mine. Twitter was already sloppy but the mess was contained to a degree. By giving people the ability to ramble on, the noise increases, and more noise is the last thing Twitter or anyone else needs.