Twitter Is Testing Longer Tweets

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Some users will now be able to send messages that are double the standard 140-character limit.

Twitter is about to get a little more wordy. 

The social network announced Tuesday that it is testing doubling its character limit from 140 characters to 280 characters, a move meant to explore whether people are able to better express themselves on the platform when they aren't limited by space. 

CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted the news, calling it "a small change but a big move for us." The 140 character limit is one of Twitter's oldest and most arcane features, something Dorsey says was "an arbitrary choice." He notes that the expanded length is meant to help solve a problem for users while also maintaining the "brevity, speed, and essence" of Twitter. 

In a blog post, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen notes that the length of tweets varies country by country. In Japan, for example, thoughts can be expressed in much fewer characters. On average, Japanese tweets are 15 characters long while English tweets are 34 characters long. "We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter," she writes, explaining that the expanded tweets are currently only available to a small group that will test how the change impacts the platform. 

Plans to do away with the 140 character have been speculated about for years. At one time, the company considered significantly increasing the character limit to 10,000. It did expand the length of direct messages to 10,000 characters in 2015 and has made other changes that help people pack more words into a tweet, like not counting usernames in the character count. 

Twitter will collect data from the test group and use that to determine whether the feature will roll out more broadly to its 328 monthly active users. 

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