Last night, Twitter announced it was increasing the maximum size of each tweet from 140 characters to 280.
The change will only impact a small group of select users for now while Twitter evaluates whether to roll the change out globally or not. Twitter says the change is because, while users typing in Japanese, Chinese and Korean are able to get more thoughts into 140 characters, those of us speaking English and other European languages are regularly hitting the 140-character buffer.
This is bad, according to Twitter, so the limit has been increased. That limit, incidentally, was originally used to make every tweet (and the name of the sender) fit into the 160-character limits once imposed by mobile networks on text messages.
Anyone scanning their Twitter feeds on September 26 will have seen many users mocking the change, claiming there is a skill in crafting a tweet of no more than 140 characters - and that 280 characters just gives disagreeable politicians more airtime.
But, for anyone who just can't resist being an early adopter, there is a way to sneak into the exclusive 280 club. Discovered by Twitter user Prof9, the trick involves using the Tampermonkey Chrome plugin and a piece of code written by Prof9.
Here's what you need to do:
- Install Tampermonkey from the Chrome web store here.
- Head to this Github page, containing the code written by Prof9
- Click the 'Raw' button, then 'install' on the next page.
Now head to Twitter.com and you should have the ability to tweet with 280 characters at a time. The counter no longer works, stuck at 140. But letters beyond the new 280 limit will turn red as you write your tweet, just as before. The trick only works on Twitter.com and not in apps like Tweetdeck, but it at least gives you an idea of what a 280-character tweet looks like - and, as we found, how much you have to ramble to fill all that new space.
Given this hack has been written in just a few hours, it might not work smoothly for everyone and could potentially cause Chrome to behave strangely (although we haven't seen any evidence of this), so we'd advice you to switch Tampermonkey off once you have had a play.
What do you think, GearBrain readers? Have you always felt 140 characters was too restrictive, or do you think 280 is just too much? Personally, I feel tweet threads are a better answer for when 140 just isn't enough.