The 280 controversy: Twitter doubles character count, sparking mixed reactions

Twitter officially doubles its 140 character limit providing a sigh of relief to its users who now can be explicit enough in their tweets. But did that really happen? IBTimes Singapore, in trying to compile a full-fledged tweet based on an article and keeping the bottom line of the story in focus, saw that 46 to 50 words can fit in swiftly by staying within the 280 character limitation.

Since 2006, Twitter has taken pride in its notion of 140-character limitation. However, in the past few years, Twitter relaxed this limitation on direct messages, photos, videos and GIFs. But its historic announcement on Tuesday, November 7, baffled most of the users.

At a time when 9 percent of tweets in English hit the 140 character limit, the volume dropped to 1 percent when the 280 character trial run began. Some of them utilized all the 280 characters hailing the move as "new and novel".

Tweets though were longer than 140 characters, hardly 2 percent among them crossed 190. Users who received more room to tweet ended up receiving more followers, retweets, likes and mentions.

"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," said Aliza Rosen, Product Manager, Twitter.

Speaking of the pros and cons of the initiative, Shantanu Singh, a Microsoft techie said that Twitter's new move to provide more space to the users is a big advantage in itself.

"The con is that Twitter was doing pretty well for itself and for everyone else at the 140 character limit. It was very trendy. I did not see the need to make another place for Facebook like status," the techie added.

Most of the news aggregators consider Twitter one of their primary tools to aggregate and promote syndicated web content such as online newspapers, blogs, podcasts and video blogs in one location for easy viewing. How beneficial can their existence be now?

Threat to news aggregators?

As it is difficult to monitor websites frequently, news aggregators have played a vital role bringing in many websites into one page and also providing updated information from different sites at one place.

Google News, Bing, Yahoo News, or Drudge Report are to name a few compiling news and provide links to original news sources. In addition, Facebook, Feedly, My Yahoo, Bloglines, Inoreader, Flipboard are allowing readers to select a news or web feed.

News apps like Inshorts distribute the news staying within a limit of 60 words. Hubhopper, Awesummly, Knappily are also some popular news apps rolling out a news in just a short summary.

With Twitter rolling out 280 characters, anyone now can become a news aggregator. Media houses do not necessarily need to restrict themselves while tweeting. Whether the new word length gives a new avenue for freelancer aggregators a chance to keep their followers on the hook to latest news remains to be seen.

Moreover, the new limit may force news-providers to preferably condense their news to 280 characters, though critics add that it could lead to the condensation of thought as well.

Now that 280 characters make Twitter a similar platform like Facebook, aggregating news will definitely become an easy process on Twitter though it may not replace the popular or main news aggregators.