Twitter opens floodgates on 280-character tweets after few use it

Brevity is the soul of old Twitter, with new Twitter doubling the character count per tweet.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Twitter has extended its rollout of 280-character tweets to users where the company believes cramming is an issue -- not Japanese, Chinese, or Korean -- and claims the brevity of its social media site will remain.

In a piece of extraordinary rationale for the new feature, Twitter program manager Aliza Rosen said that during testing of the double-length tweets that begun in September, the feature was not widely used.

"During the first few days of the test, many people tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised," she wrote in a blog post.

"We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time, and the brevity of Twitter remained."

According to statistics collected by Twitter, only 5 percent of tweets during testing were over 140 characters, and only 2 percent were over 190 characters.

Rosen said that 9 percent of tweets were hitting the previous 140-character limit, and under the new regime, only 1 percent of tweets hit 280 characters.

The social media site said it expects a spike in "novelty" tweeting as the feature is rolled out, before "normal behaviour" on the site is resumed.

In recent weeks, Twitter has banned Russian media sites RT and Sputnik from advertising on its platform after determining that both Kremlin-backed news outlets attempted to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election.

The company said it would donate the $1.9 million paid by RT for advertising since 2011 to "external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections".

Alongside Facebook and Google, Twitter testified before the US Senate last week on the issue of Russian meddling in the election.

The company said it deleted 2,752 accounts linked to the Kremlin, with 1.4 million automated, election-related tweets receiving around 288 million impressions on the site.

For the third quarter, the company reported a net loss of $21 million on revenue of $590 million, down 4 percent from a year ago.

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