The Case of Nigerians VS Twitter’s 280 Character Limit


Very soon, there will be a new prosperity Pentecostal prayer point in Nigeria. Every Daddy Freeze threatening your economy shall be consigned to oblivion by an El Rufai fighting teachers IJN.

— Pius Adesanmi (@pius_adesanmi) November 9, 2017

With just 140 characters, Twitter became a place where many Nigerians treaded carefully because of the fear of savage responses that would be made into memes, shared virally and used as status updates and profile pictures without blurring out the name of the unfortunate recipient who sometimes did nothing wrong save from just publicly expressing an opinion – now imagine what the “woke” on Twitter can do with 280 characters!

This week, Twitter announced that it was expanding the 140-character limit globally; allowing every Twitter user around the world express themselves more explicitly in a Tweet.

Recall that the company in September, launched a test that expanded the signatory character limit. For the company, the goal was to make expression in a tweet possible while ensuring they kept the speed and brevity that made Twitter, Twitter.

“Looking at all the data, we’re excited to share we’ve achieved this goal and are rolling the change out to all languages where cramming was an issue,” said Aliza Rozen, Twitter’s Product Manager.

Maybe it won’t make savage responses more severe

According to Rozen, during the first few days of the test, many people maxed out the 280 character limit because it was new and novel, but soon after, behavior normalized.

“We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters; they tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained,” she said.

The company revealed that 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing a tweet before posting and at other times, abandoning tweets altogether.

But with the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit.

“Since we saw tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their tweets in the composer,” Rozen said.

Twitter argued that the observation shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a tweet, so they can say what they want to say, and send tweets faster than before.

The Naija factor

While Twitter’s argument is quite valid, that feature would serve the same purpose in Nigeria as individuals will have more characters with which they can express themselves – even if such expression is to pile insults on other Twitter users.

Proverbs, adages and insults are freely thrown on Twitter Nigeria and with more characters, expect to see epistles, statements and toxic stories that really touch. Probably this shouldn’t have been introduced in Nigeria, maybe it should – let all the bad blood out in descriptive essays instead of writing cryptic tweets.

Dear @IFM4real, not everyone that has this more words feature is a celeb so just park well and farabale because it is for all of us now not you and other celebs. You hear me so? Gbogbo wa ni bayi. Dupe lowo @Twitter. And no abuse am. What else i wan say? Ehn? Wos Wobi, Wobi Wos!!

— (@IBPulse) November 8, 2017

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