It is a significant moment for the 11-year-old Twitter, which has been trying to figure out how to change the social media service without alienating the people who have embraced its short format.
The idea of extending the length of Twitter posts has been contentious internally, batted around among product groups that are trying to find ways to persuade people to use the service more frequently. At 328 million users, Twitter has been criticized for its inability to attract more people. Investors have grown nervous, as that slowing of user growth has affected the company’s revenue.
Last year, Twitter tried extending its character count by allowing people to post photos and GIFs without counting them against the overall character limit. It also toyed with longer posts exceeding 140 characters, until criticism from users prompted Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, to proclaim that the limit was here to stay.
Twitter is now preparing for a backlash from those who might take issue with a 280-character tweet.
“We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters,” the company said. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.”
The negative reaction was swift, however. Some on Twitter proclaimed it a “terrible idea.”
Still, Twitter pointed to people who post primarily in Japanese, Chinese and Korean, languages with alphabets that allow the expression of more thoughts in fewer characters. Those users tend to bump up against the character limits less often, which Twitter said leads to more frequent messages.
As a result, Twitter said, if rules around characters are loosened, English-speaking users — who tend to use more characters in tweets — will also hit character limits…