Is Twitter Abandoning Their 140-characters limit?

While I was working on a script, I recalled a scene from The Matrix in which ‘The Oracle’ was talking about good and defective pieces of software. So, I found the quote online and decided to post it on Twitter, but as usual, the 140 character limit was going to be an issue! Not this time!

I hit post, waiting to get the 140 character error message, but the tweet was posted anyway!

Tweet longer than 140 characters!

Tweet longer than 140 characters!

On my twitter profile page the message showed truncated to 140 characters, but with the periods of ellipsis (…) linking to the full tweet. I tested how it’s displayed on TweetDeck, but it was truncated to 140 characters without a link to read the full tweet – I guess this is a #TODO for TweetDeck’s team!

I tried again, with a really long tweet this time, but it was truncated at 246 characters! No warning on the posting box, though.

The question now: Is this a new feature of Twitter, or is it a bug?

I doubt it’s the latter, as even the Javascript that usually tells me how many characters are left didn’t warn me. So, it has got to be intentional. If it’s a new feature, then many websites that offer is to allow longer tweets are about to be decommissioned, such as: twerbose, twitblogs, XLTweet, twitlonger and others.

But, if Twitter is really considering longer Tweets, doesn’t that negate the entire purpose of the 140 characters limit that the entire Twitter reputation is build on top of? From the Twitter Blog: “The Twitter message limit of 140 characters was based on the limit of 160 characters imposed by SMS in general—we just needed some room to include your name in front of the message. It’s this simple constraint that allows Twitter to work well in so many places.”

What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment.

UPDATE (24 May 2009): It turned out to be a bug, and some people heard about it beforehand. The question now becomes, why does Twitter keep this bug and seems to have taken it into consideration by enabling the system to automatically add the ellipses and link to the full tweet?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Hmm.. I am not sure. On my Firefox browser, I am able to write as much as I wish.

    I agree with you, I think Twitter and 140 characters should never be separated.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Hmm.. I am not sure. On my Firefox browser, I am able to write as much as I wish.

    I agree with you, I think Twitter and 140 characters should never be separated.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Amer! I salute you for the attention to the tiniest details! Great post!

    And I agree… Twitter and 140 are meant to be :P

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Amer! I salute you for the attention to the tiniest details! Great post!

    And I agree… Twitter and 140 are meant to be :P

  • http://kpfingaz.com/ Jay | kpfingaz

    I tried posting a long tweet but the post button grayed out after 140 characters. The 140 character limit is part of what makes Twitter what it is so I hope they don't abandon this.

  • http://www.adampieniazek.com/ AdamPieniazek

    Umm…wtf? I hope you just stumbled upon some bug/glitch and they're not changing the 140 character limit. Even if they keep the 140 limit in the twitter stream and have an ellipsis link out to the full tweet it's highly annoying not seeing the full message within my stream.

    The 140 limit is part of Twitter's brand and one of the main advantages of it to blogging/other communication/social services. You can't just keep ranting and ranting on Twitter and have to get to your point. Without that limit the service fails.

    And what effect would this have on their servers/databases which are already struggling?

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    I tried it on both Firefox and IE, it didn't work!

    I agree with @AdamPieniazek, the 140 limit is part of Twitter's brand, if you take it out, then we don't have a Twitter. It is one of Twitter's fundamental characteristic, I really hope that you have just caught a bug :)

    Was it just one tweet that worked with you this way? have you tried it several times?

  • http://rolandhesz.com Roland Hesz

    Twitter has worked like this since last year, and by that I mean February at least. If you wrote over 140 characters – I sometimes did – the 3 dots appeared and people could click on it to see the whole text.
    It usually worked in twhirl, tweetdeck and other 3rd party apps.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    @Roland, does it work for some people and not for others? It never worked for me!! Maybe there are some special cases?

  • http://rolandhesz.com Roland Hesz

    I am not quite sure when and how it happens, I just know that I got the message “your message is too long, but don't worry, blah, blah,blah” and then the …
    Will check how and when it works.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    I'm starting to lean towards a bug, I think it's something to do with the Javascript validation they have on the posting input box.

    DB and server wise, I don't think it would do a big difference, I think bandwidth wise they'd be looking at a spike (I mean 140 to 248 chars is a 77% increase), and their main product is text!

  • http://twitter.com/Twitter_Tips Dave

    It's a Javascript issue. You get up to 250 characters in some cases: http://www.seoconsultants.com/twitter/supertweet/

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    You are correct. I just tried disabling Javascript in my Firefox, and it worked, I enabled it and it stopped!

  • http://twitter.com/XLTweet eXtra Long Tweet

    Hi Amer, this workaround hack has been going around for awhile now…. and I do emphasize its just a 'workaround hack' which Twitter may fix or patch at anytime. Thanks for the mention above. Feel free to stop by XLTweet.com and the popular Twitter-ized blog TwitWall.com anytime… we'll be glad you did.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    @XLTweet I agree that it's a 'workaround hack'. It's intentionally built in, but obviously not encouraged by Twitter.

    I checked TwitWall but didn't get its importance. Can't I do the same on a much larger and customizable scale with a regular blog? Also, to encourage people like me to register, install OAuth – no passwords given out!

    Thanks for commenting.

  • Diego

    This has been possible for a long time now.

  • http://www.rosshill.com.au rosshill

    That's not new – it's just well hidden ;) Matrix indeed.

  • http://inthemindofthisredhead.blogspot.com mynameismud

    I'm at odds, not sure what to think. So many times I've had to re-write because I had too many characters, but at the same time, I like the idea of getting right to the point. Let's keep it the way it is.

  • http://www.valnelson.com/ Val Nelson

    140 limit is the genius of Twitter. I hope that doesn't change.
    Thank you for explaining this little glitch I noticed recently. I can submit on Tweetdeck even if it's over 140, and it then creates the ellipsis. I can't do that on Twitter. But I can only click on the … link on Twitter. So, definitely an unintended consequence of using two different platforms in combination.

  • http://twitter.com/theresamcgeeart Theresa McGee

    I like 140 characters as well – it really makes me think about what I need to say. But a 160 characters would be great for those of us who just need to fit in that last bit of info=:)

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    There’s always http://www.bigtweet.com

  • Fi5herman

    I like the Twitter 140 platform as you can quickly read & converse . It will ruin it's effectiveness if folks are given latitude with their messaging. 140 makes folks get to the point……………this is what all busy internet users look for and want.!!
    A great post Amer, I enjoy your input.

    Hey…..life is good…….

    Allen Sentance
    Fisherman

  • Fi5herman

    I like the 140 limit and really hope they never change it, as it makes people get to the point of what they want to say (short & sweet). Given too much space they want to SPAM or rave on and that is the Bullshit we can do without.
    A great point made with your post here Amer……..TY :)

    Allen Sentance
    Fisherman

  • Linda

    twitter won't abandon the 140 char that they're renowned for – http://www.jumbotweet.com is a nice service to post longer twitter messages though that I've started using recently

  • http://gadgets.geekstream.info/2009/07/11/man-claims-to-have-written-longest-tweet-ever-247-characters/ Man Claims to Have Written Longest Tweet Ever (247 Characters) | GeekStream Gadgets

    [...] or feature, depending on how you look at it, has been known since at least as far back as May, when Amer Kawar tried sending a very long quote and discovered that his full tweet was simply hidden. If you break [...]

  • http://telaijarabelo.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/longest-tweet-ever/ Longest Tweet Ever « The Telai Show

    [...] first longest tweet ever recorded (not quite sure about his) was by Twitter user @amerkawar who blogged about his 246 characters

  • http://twitter.com/TJSonOfAnder T.J. Anderson

    weird, just had this happen to me for the first time today. I'm way behind the ball on this one.

  • http://www.infura.com/blog/how-to/how-to-tweet-more-than-140-characters/ How to Tweet more than 140 characters | Infura

    [...] the past, it used to be possible for a while to post something longer than 140 characters in Twitter directly. It was a bug, and Twitter let that bug be active for a while. However, Twitter has since then [...]

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