The social media giant, which has around 330m monthly active users worldwide, announced in September it was testing the longer length, double the usual 140 characters, to help prevent users having to "cram" in tweets and express themselves better.
Now the company says it is going to expand the longer length to users in all languages except Chinese, Japanese and Korean, where cramming is not a problem because they can convey more in one character.
Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen wrote in a blog post: “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.”
Most people should automatically see the 280-character feature. If not, they can update their mobile app or refresh twitter.com on their computers. People tweeting in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will remain at the 140 character limit for now.
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.
It’s probably no surprise that the company’s user count has stalled at 330 million accounts, and that’s after Twitter admitted to having overcounted user numbers for three years.
Concerns about Russian interference in the US election led congressional leaders to grill Facebook, Google and Twitter on the details of how that meddling happened and what the tech giants are doing to stop it. Fearing federal regulation, the companies have vowed to make changes.
So, again, what does 280 characters have to do with all this? The announcement could briefly divert negative attention from larger problems. They change their narrative in the news cycle by responding to user feedback.