Twitter increases character count limit

Nick Gates


ocket Man will now have to dodge President Donald Trump’s Twitter barrages even further after the social media platform rolled out its new 280-character count.

The update comes after a test group received the increased count. Despite saying only 5 percent of tweets from test-group participants went above the previous limit of 140 characters, Twitter has given all users the doubled count.

Stefanie Moore, an associate professor of social media strategies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said Trump now has more characters to get his voice out to the American people.

“Trump uses Twitter as a megaphone to communicate to the people,” Moore said. “Now he has an opportunity to double what he’s saying per tweet.”

It took less than 24 hours for the president to tweet a message that surpassed Twitter’s previous limit, mentioning his future plans in Korea and China.

Luke Armour, the coordinator of Flash Communications, said Twitter is the president’s modern-day way of reaching the public.

“When (President Franklin D. Roosevelt) started the fireside chats, no president had ever used radio before,” Armour said. “Things are just evolving, and the truth of the matter is that people don’t like the way he uses Twitter. The complaint is that he says what’s on his mind, whether it’s fact-based or not.”

Students believe the additional character count will not affect the way Trump utilizes Twitter or the amount he tweets.

Zachary McKnight, a freshman journalism major, said the president uses Twitter too much, but there is no way to stop him.

“I don’t think it’s going to change one way or another,” McKnight said. “Sometimes it makes him look good because it shows that he is trying to take action, but it also means that sometimes he can never keep his mouth shut.”

Angela Minichello, a junior special education major, said the increase in characters will allow President Trump to further express his opinion.

“It depends on how you view his tweets because he’s going to continue to say what he wants, and he has more room to do that now,” Minichello said.

Despite what today’s political climate may suggest, there are roughly 328 million active Twitter users worldwide who are not Trump.

So, how will this new feature affect Twitter’s average user?

Moore suggests that after the initial launch, it is just a matter of time until users do not notice 280-character tweets.

“I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference,” she said. “I feel like we’ve been conditioned to that shorter, concise message, and it will probably take some time to get used to these longer tweets.”

Armour said the minimal character count of only 140 characters from its inception in 2006 made Twitter stand out among other platforms.

“To me, Twitter has always been, ‘How creative can you be in that 140-character count?’” he said. “It was one of the defining characteristics of Twitter: that you had this limited, concise, brief opportunity to say something.”

After the site recently came under fire after over 200 Russian-based bots were found to have spread propaganda during the 2016 election season, Moore believes the update came at a less than ideal time for Twitter.

“There’s a need to cut down on bots and Russian propaganda, and I feel like Twitter was almost tone deaf to those problems and decided that this was the solution,” Moore said. “I think they need to take a hard look at how people use the platform and how it helps aid the spread of misinformation.”

Nick Gates is the technology reporter. Contact him at [email protected].