There are two facts about Twitter which form the basis for pub quiz questions around the country.

  1. Who has more followers than anyone else?
  2. What is the maximum number of characters allowed in a Tweet?

The answer to the first has changed a fair few times in the ten years since the site was launched (at the time of writing American pop star Katy Perry is in pole position.)

As for the second, you might think you’re on safer ground. The 140 characters have probably been the defining feature of tweets ever since the social network’s founder Jack Dorsey sent the very first message in 2006.

But a decade on, things are about to change in a very big way, with Twitter bosses preparing to cast aside the constraints and introduce a bigger character limit (some suggest it could be up to 10,000).

Inevitably the proposals have divided opinion.

Some believe that brevity is Twitter’s great selling point and that such a radical change will make the site almost indistinguishable from the likes of Facebook, where individuals and businesses alike have long been able to wax lyrical at length.

Despite the backlash, Twitter’s owners have argued that change is necessary.

They point to the fact that the old limit is rather old-fashioned, it actually pre-dates the smart phone, and that some users have already sought a way around the restrictions by tweeting pictures of much longer pieces of text.

For businesses who have ever tried to condense an important message into just a couple of lines, the more relaxed approach will doubtlessly come as a relief. You will no longer have to reach for the thesaurus to try and find a shorter noun or worry about the implications of holding a social media seminar in the Welsh town of Llanfair Caereinion.

But just because firms will be able to talk at greater length to their clients, doesn’t mean that this is always the best approach. Many of Twitter’s existing users enjoy the economic approach and if you suddenly start posting 22 paragraphs of text every morning, don’t expect great numbers of people to get all the way to the bottom!

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