In other ‘features we don’t need’ news, Twitter now lets you have 50 characters in your display name
In one of the biggest changes in its 11-year history, Twitter recently ditched its most defining feature. It is now letting all users send tweets containing 280 characters, up from the standard 140.
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said the original 140-character limit was an “arbitrary choice based on the 160-character SMS limit”. For anyone under 30, text messages used to be charged by the number of characters you sent.
He described the update as a “small change, but a big move” for the social network, once referred to as a microblog because of the brevity of tweets compared to Facebook, for example.
Now, the social network is taking things a step further by increasing the number of characters you can have in your display name. “Starting today, your Twitter display name can be up to 50 characters in length!,” the official Twitter Support handle tweeted. “Go ahead, add that middle name or even a few more emojis.” The previous upper limit was 20 characters.
How to change your Twitter username
To change your Twitter display name, which is different to your username, go to the Edit Profile menu and overwrite the existing name. You may have seen these name changes in action recently as Twitter users changed their titles to be Halloween related.
Your username appears in your profile URL and is unique to you while your display name is a personal identifier (sometimes a business name or real name) on your profile page. Your username can be up to 15 characters long, your display name can now be up to 50 characters long.
To change your username, instead, go to Settings and privacy from your profile icon dropdown menu.
Under Account, choose your new username. If it’s already taken, Twitter will let you know. Save the changes.
Twitter explains that changing your username will not affect your followers, Direct Messages, or replies but if they’re used to typing a specific Twitter handle, you may want to let these followers know.
In a blog post announcing the recent 280 character update, Twitter wrote: “Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain. We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming.”
Cramming refers to the fact that in many languages, including English, the lengths of words and phrases make sending tweets difficult, yet in Japanese and Chinese, more can be written as the symbols take up less space.
“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.”
Of course, the attention quickly focused on President Donald Trump. Trump regularly tweets, and often gets himself and the US into trouble as a result. He has been accused of inciting racial hatred, sexism and promoting abuse and Twitter has come under considerable fire for not tackling the issue.
In fact, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said Trump’s tweets about him and his country were a declaration of war. Twitter recently said it wouldn’t remove such tweets, or suspend Trump, because of his posts’ “newsworthiness”. At the time of writing, it doesn’t appear Donald Trump is included in the 280-character trial.
And with any change like this, people are not happy. Many have criticised Twitter for abandoning the brevity it is known for and for trying to be too much like Facebook. Some of these users are sending the notes straight to Dorsey, and it appears he’s replying. In one tweet he wrote:
Dorsey is also responding to criticisms about the change stifling creativity.
But ultimately, many users are calling out the social network for making relatively meaningless changes while failing to tackle the trolling, abuse and bots on the site. Dorsey has also been replying to a number of these comments saying the team is working on the problem.
In one, a direct response to criticism about Nazi and white supremacist posts, Dorsey wrote: “We’re looking at how people use it and where they are blocked. We are dedicating a lot to safety and have made more progress than ever before.”