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article imageChina's Weibo ups character limit to 2,000 ahead of Twitter

By James Walker     Jan 21, 2016 in Technology
Weibo, the Chinese social network usually viewed as the country's answer to Twitter, has axed its 140-character limit on user posts and dramatically increased the maximum length to 2,000 characters. It comes amid rumours of Twitter doing the same soon.
Sina Weibo will begin to roll out the change on January 28, allowing limited numbers of users to try out the new feature and start writing much longer status updates. Initially, only "senior users" of the microblogging platform will be able to benefit from the 2,000-character limit but it should be available to all its 200 million users before the end of February.
Posts longer than 140 characters won't appear in full on user profile pages or timeline feeds. To keep these pages looking their best and continue to display multiple posts at a time, longer updates will display only the first 140 characters and a link to read the rest. The solution is similar to how Twitter is expected to implement longer tweets, according to several rumours that have become much more detailed in 2016.
The company is reportedly working to raise its character limit to 10,000 per post under a project known internally as "Beyond 140." It is believed to have been working on ways to make the change for several months but is still testing different implementations of the feature.
According to a Re/code report from earlier this month, Twitter is working hard on the design and presentation of longer tweets to ensure they don't detract from the overall user experience. The company needs to hit on an elegant solution that makes it obvious when more content is present, inviting the user to view it without making them scroll through reams of text every time they open the app.
The reported plans have proved to be controversial. While some have welcomed the idea of being able to express more detailed opinions on the platform, others have bemoaned the loss of Twitter's most famous characteristic that has previously let it stand out against rival Facebook. With stagnant user growth and poor economic performance, Twitter is trying to implement new features designed to gain and retain users but risks alienating the 120 million people who already use it in doing so.
Twitter's 140 character limit was originally implemented so a tweet could fit into an SMS message for posting from a mobile phone. Over time, it has become less and less relevant though, despite forming the core of the site's personality and forcing its users to be creative when writing new posts.
The site hasn't made any official comment on its widely-reported plans so far but co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey indicated in a tweet earlier this month that the current reports are accurate.
He said Twitter is "not going to be shy about building more utility and power" to let people do what they want but pledged to maintain the platform's "fast, public, live conversational nature." Twitter's plans for the future of tweeting remain unconfirmed but it now has a key rival to look at when assessing the viability of upping the character limit.
More about weibo, Twitter, Tweet, Characters, Social media
 
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