tldr: 140 characters is perfect for Twitter because it ensures brevity and forces creativity
I have been using Twitter ever since March 2009. I love Twitter. It is the perfect place to share what you are doing, and discover what is happening in the world. Since its launch in July 2006, Twitter has restricted tweets to 140 characters or less. This limitation (at the time put into place because of SMS limits) over the years has resulted in clever, creative works of expression on the site.
Just yesterday, CEO Jack Dorsey announced an experiment that Twitter is conducting with a small number of users that doubles the tweet limit from 140 characters to 280 characters.
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
Twitter tried to justify the change as better aligning with other languages which may not hit the character limit as quickly as English does, and even claimed to maintain their brevity. However, I have found that tweets with 280 characters just seem cluttered and take up precious space in the timeline. Some tweets even abused the new feature with spam.
To me, Twitter was built around the idea of composing a tweet in 140 characters or less. Over the years, I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to convey my thoughts, ideas, and actions into a 140 character tweet. Sometimes a tweetstorm. While some users may be delighted at the prospect of 280 characters, it takes away from that excitement and uniqueness that makes Twitter the social network it is. The continued drive toward a likeness to Facebook will only push users away.
There’s a million things I want in this life and a 280 character limit on @twitter is not one of them.— Dakota Allen (@dakotadallen) September 26, 2017
Twitter has enough issues on its plate right now. I am hoping that they will listen to their loyal users, take a look at their history, and make the right decision at the conclusion of this experiment.