Twitter to double tweet limit to 280 characters

This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (AP)
Updated 08 November 2017
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Twitter to double tweet limit to 280 characters

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter announced Tuesday it would double the limit for tweets to 280 characters, a bid to draw in more users and boost engagement at the social network.
Giving users twice the space to voice their thoughts ushers in a new era for the online platform, whose hallmark 140-character cap had encouraged users to craft succinct missives.
“We’re expanding the character limit! We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves,” tweeted the site, which started testing an increase to its limit in most languages in early September.
The changes will be rolling out in all languages except Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, in which space limitations have not been an issue, Twitter said.
It is the first time the tweet character cap has been raised since Twitter was founded 11 years ago.
Twitter, which has been lagging behind rival social networks in user growth and struggling to reach profitability, faced a dilemma over the change in that it could alienate longtime users and transform the nature of the service.
Product manager Aliza Rosen said in a blog post that the test showed most people still used 140 characters or fewer, suggesting the fast-moving nature of Twitter will not change.
“Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter,” Rosen said. “We’re excited to share we’ve achieved this goal and are rolling the change out to all languages where cramming was an issue.”

Rosen noted that in the first few days of the test many people used the full 280-limit because it was new and novel, “but soon after behavior normalized.”
As a result, “the brevity of Twitter remained,” she said.
While Twitter itself changed the way people communicate in the Internet age, doubling the tweet character limit promised to shift it once again, according to Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University.
“It will slow down the speed at which users consume information and will allow for more clarity,” Grygiel said.
“This might not be a bad thing during a time when world leaders are making military threats via the platform.”
US President Donald Trump favors the platform for making major policy announcements, as well as criticizing allies, taunting opponents and threatening North Korea with destruction.
He sent his inaugural 280-tweet while on South Korea as part of his Asia tour: “Getting ready to make a major speech to the National Assembly here in South Korea, then will be headed to China where I very much look forward to meeting with President Xi who is just off his great political victory.”

Some users have worried that longer tweets could profoundly change the nature of the one-to-many messaging platform, which is popular with journalists and politicians but has failed to win the mass appeal of rivals like Facebook.
There was also worry that raising the character cap would give blowhards and abusers more room to spout.
“I will gladly give up my extra 140 characters if Twitter will delete Trump’s account,” author and civil rights commentator DaShanne Stokes said in a tweet fired off from @dashannestokes.
Stokes said Twitter’s move gives Trump “a bigger weapon with which to hurt more people.”
Twitter, which became a public company in 2013, has never reported a profit, even though it has built a loyal base of celebrities, journalists and political figures, including prolific tweeter Trump.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said that longer test tweets got tended to prompt more engagement by others using the service.
“In addition to more Tweeting, people who had 280 characters received more Likes, Retweets, @mentions, Followers, and were more satisfied with Twitter. So, you’ll be getting 280 too — enjoy!” Stone tweeted.
Some analysts maintain longer tweets are not the fix Twitter needs, and may even change the appealing ability to take in messages with glances.
It also risks Twitter looking a bit more like Facebook, one analyst contended, and might prompt the leading online social network to respond to what it might see as a competitive threat.
Meanwhile, many users welcomed the news and said raising the character cap was long overdue. Some people already resort to long strings of rapid-fire tweets, known as “tweet storms,” to string together lengthy comment.
Last month, Twitter reported its loss for the past quarter narrowed as the company suggested it could reach profitability for the first time in the fourth quarter.
The update showed Twitter’s monthly active user base rose slightly to 330 million, roughly in line with forecasts.


Live from Idlib, an American broadcasts from Syria’s last rebel zone

Bilal Abdul Kareem. (Photo credit: twipu)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Live from Idlib, an American broadcasts from Syria’s last rebel zone

  • Around 3 million people live in Idlib and surrounding rebel territory, including foreigners who have joined the war against the Assad regime

BEIRUT: Pointing to a green screen as if presenting a weather forecast, Bilal Abdul Kareem analyzes the Turkish-Russian deal over Syria’s Idlib, broadcasting in his native English from inside the war-torn country’s last opposition stronghold.
The 47-year-old American is a long way from where he grew up near the Bronx, watching reruns of “Rocky” and eating at Italian restaurants.
Dressed in a charcoal suit jacket, the broad-shouldered and bearded Abdul Kareem stares into the camera and insists: “In this deal, this specific deal, nobody can say the rebels were not winners.”
For the past six years, he has reported from shrinking opposition territory in Syria’s north, filming the aftermath of airstrikes, interviewing hard-line fighters, even meeting Al-Qaeda members.
His contacts, including in Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), have granted him extensive access at a time when the risk of abduction makes much of Syria too dangerous for journalists from mainstream news outlets.
But it has also prompted allegations that Abdul Kareem is an extremist “propagandist” and would not have survived in the area had he been an impartial journalist — particularly given HTS’ history of harsh crackdowns against perceived foes.
Speaking to AFP from Idlib over Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook, Abdul Kareem denied the claims and directed accusations of his own: He is suing the US government for allegedly trying to kill him in Syria.
As the case drags through US courts, the self-described “bald-headed black guy in the middle of Syria” has remained in Idlib despite fears of a looming regime offensive, continuing to file dispatches for his media upstart, On the Ground News.
Born Darrell Lamont Phelps, Abdul Kareem embraced Islam before moving to the Middle East in 2002. He married and had children in Egypt, but declined to disclose their location for security reasons.
He arrived in Syria in 2012 from Libya, curious about the fighters battling President Bashar Assad’s forces in a conflict which at that point was just a year old.
Working first with major broadcasters including CNN, he founded OGN in 2015 as editors started to express “doubts” about his political stances, he said.
The channel now publishes on YouTube, Twitter, and a Facebook page with more than 86,000 followers.
“I have a good working relationship with every group, which doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with everything they do or they agree with everything I do,” he said.
A normal day begins with dawn prayers at 4:30 a.m., followed by a routine search of his car for bombs. The rest is up to the news cycle.
He could find himself on a motorcycle zipping toward a frontline, lapel mic in hand but without protective gear, or sipping tea with hardcore fighters most Americans would consider unsavory.
“I remember I had these very, very in-depth conversations with different Al-Qaeda members about America, Americans and the democratic system,” Abdul Kareem said.
He offered unsuccessfully to facilitate a dialogue between Western powers and Idlib’s militants, whom he insisted don’t have “blood dripping from their fangs and want to eat American children.”
The US has designated Al-Qaeda and HTS “terrorist organizations.” Around 3 million people live in Idlib and surrounding rebel territory, including foreigners who have joined the war against the Assad regime. “There are quite a few Americans here. All fighters,” Abdul Kareem said. Asked about his future, he recalled escaping second city Aleppo as it fell to the regime in 2016. If the same fate awaits Idlib, he said, “I would be one of the last people to leave.” Abdul Kareem’s 16-year absence from the US has made him miss simple things: speaking English, sugary cereals. But he fears the 2016 election of President Donald Trump has changed the country too much.
“It sounds like America is not the same America that I grew up in,” he said. His remaining links are with his sister, and a lawsuit he filed last year against Trump and a coterie of US officials, accusing the government of attempting to kill him five times. Once was on a reporting trip. “My car was hit with a drone strike. The car flipped up into the air and landed on its side facing the opposite direction,” he said. Abdul Kareem is demanding the government stop targeting him, remove him from any so-called “kill list” and disclose the names of other citizens who may be on it. In the meantime, OGN’s cameras keep rolling.
“I’m not in America because being here in Syria doing the work that I’m doing and covering the things I’m covering, in my estimation, is the right thing to do,” Abdul Kareem said.
“People are dying by the droves, and if I can do something to help people see what the real realities are, then what business do I have going back to America right now?“