After testing longer tweets with a subset of its users for the past two months, Twitter is now officially making 280-character tweets available to everyone. The changes should be available to all of the service’s users effective immediately, but a company spokesperson cautioned that it could take up to two hours to take effect in all apps around the globe.
Twitter is exempting tweets in Chinese, Korean and Japanese from the new character limit, arguing that these languages already made it possible to put a lot more information into 140 characters.
However, the company decided to not rely on a user’s system language or location to implement these varying limits. “Many people live in foreign countries or travel regularly,” explained Twitter product designer Josh Wilburne in a blog post. “Additionally, many people tweet in multiple languages, sometimes within a single tweet.” That’s why Twitter ultimately decided to detect the language of each and every tweet on the fly. The remaining character limit will be displayed with a combination of visual and numeric cues.
Twitter fully expects people to go a bit crazy once they get access to 280 characters, which is exactly what happened when the company first started testing the feature in September. “People in the test got very excited about the extra space in the beginning and many tweets went way beyond 140,” wrote Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen in a blog post Tuesday.
“People did silly (creative!) things like writing just a few characters per line to make their tweets extra large,” she continued. “It was a temporary effect and didn’t last long. We expect to see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week’s launch and expect it to resume to normal behavior soon after.”
After things calmed down, only 5% of the tweets sent by people with access to the feature during the recent test had more than 140 characters. Only 2% of tweets had more than 190 characters. On the flip side, people with access to longer tweets were more engaged, and tweets with more characters actually received more likes on average than tweets with fewer characters during the company’s tests.
What’s more, users with access to 280-character tweets ultimately spent more time on the service — a metric that should make investors happy. Speaking of which: Twitter decided to release the new feature minutes before competitor Snap was scheduled to release its Q3 earnings report.