With the advent of Twitter in 2006, journalists around the globe found a new challenge in conveying their stories and messages in a social media format that would limit one’s prose to 140 characters. Since 2017, Twitter has reported 317 million active users on their platform, which has gone to include numerous actors and politicians, most notably President Donald Trump. However, on Nov. 7, Twitter announced that it is expanding its character count from the initial 140 to a whopping 280 characters. While many have used the expansion as a way to convey their message in a more detailed way, it has also become an antithesis to why Twitter was founded: to create a platform that forces one to adapt to a more-concise format.
By doubling the number of characters a user is able to type in a single tweet, Twitter has essentially altered their brand as a result. As mentioned beforehand, at its inception, Twitter marketed itself as a more concise form of social media than alternative platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, which don’t provide character limits of any sort. However, by expanding their character limit to 280 words, Twitter has essentially gotten rid of the aspect of their platform that made them unique from competing platforms. Yes, 280 characters is still a limit, but when one considers how many sentences one can write with 280 characters, it’s certainly more along the lines of a lengthy Facebook post than the brief tweets Twitter has been known for for years.
Not only does this amendment go against the brand image Twitter set for itself years ago, but it also takes away from the features the platform held that made it more advantageous for the target demographic it caters to. One group that has come to use Twitter quite frequently are journalists, who use the platform to break news, tweet stories and stay in touch with consumers of their media source. The limited character count Twitter offered was perfect for breaking news, as these statements are meant to be brief and to the point so viewers can get to important news as quickly as possible. Another key demographic for Twitter has been the millennial generation, and a defining characteristic of this generation is that they like to get their news as quickly as possible. Thus, Twitter’s character limit has made it possible for our generation to communicate quickly and concisely, avoiding the lengthy Facebook posts that have come to be mainstream on that site.
So while the expanded 280 character limit may not seem like it makes a huge difference, this development essentially goes against the way Twitter has branded itself for the past 11 years, and will ultimately change the way the platform will be used for years to come.