Why Does Twitter Have a 140 Character Limit on Posts?

By | September 8, 2016

Why Does Twitter Have a 140 Character Limit on Posts? There’s more to the story than just because it’s a micro-blogging site.

Twitter started as a primarily SMS-based service, where the standard character limit was 160-characters. The 140-character limit is based on this SMS limit, leaving 20 characters for the username. This helped all tweets to stay within one text message, instead of inundating people with multiple texts per tweet.

Now that most people use Twitter from the web or a mobile app, the 140-character limit is more of a systemic limitation rather than a technical one. Check out this video on the evolution of Twitter:

 


I know there are probably thousands of people who are still complaining that Twitter has that annoying limit, but you need to see the beauty of this feature. You don’t want people always rambling on with any end. When people read the newspaper, they usually only read the first couple of paragraphs because that’s where the juicy stuff is. If they’re really interested they’ll keep reading, and Twitter uses that same mentality. People will read the tweet, and if they’re interested they’ll click on the media or link.

Think of Twitter like a little teaser that your audience can see.

About Alex Noudelman

Alex Noudelman is an independent tech, productivity and education consultant in Toronto. He received his Honors B.A. from York University and a Masters in Adolescent Education from D’Youville College.

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