Twitter’s 280-character Limit Unleash Politeness

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  • Twitter reveals data on the impact of the 280-character launch one year on
  • 80%+ and 50%+ rise seen in the use of words such as الرجاء (please) and لو سمحت (excuse me) in Arabic

It’s been a year since Twitter introduced the 280-character limit to the platform from 140 characters, making it easier for people around the world to express themselves in a single Tweet. With a goal to continue to deliver a platform for people to connect and share news and views, the objective was to ensure the brevity and speed Twitter is known for was not lost. One year later, on the launch’s first anniversary, Twitter has released data surrounding the impact of the 280-character limit.

In the past year, the language used across the world has evolved. When analyzing seven languages, Twitter found that since the doubling of the character limit, there has been a rise in the use of words such as ‘please’ (+54%) and ‘thank you’ (+22%). In Arabic, there’s been an 83%, 56%, 44% and 30% rise in the use of الرجاء (please), لو سمحت (excuse me), شكرا (thank you), and أرجوك (please) respectively. The use of abbreviations has also declined in favor of proper words. English abbreviations such as ‘gr8’ (-36%), ‘b4’ (-13%) and ‘sry’ (-5%) declined in favour of ‘great’ (+32%) ‘before’ (+70%), and ‘sorry’ (+31%).

The new data revealed that it’s easier to Tweet and Twitter is still brief. The most common length of Tweets remains small — with 140 characters it was 34 characters in English and 30 characters in Arabic, and with 280 characters it is 33 characters in English and still 30 characters in Arabic. Historically, 9% of English Tweets and 4% of Arabic Tweets hit the 140-character limit. This reflected the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in editing to fit within the limit. With the expanded 280 character count one year later, about 1% of Tweets in both English and Arabic are hitting the 280-character limit. 12% and 5% of English and Arabic Tweets sent after the expanded 280 character count are over 140 characters respectively. Globally, Twitter saw 6% of all Tweets over 140 characters and 3% of Tweets over 190 characters. This indicates that less work is needed to fit thoughts into Tweets and short Tweets remain the norm.

In addition, more questions and conversations are taking place on the platform. The number of Tweets with a question mark ‘?’ has increased by 30% and overall, Tweets are receiving more replies.

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