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Netizens mixed over Twitter's limit expansion

Hans David Tampubolon

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, November 9, 2017  /  09:28 am
Netizens mixed over Twitter's limit expansion

Indonesians, who are the third largest Twitter users globally, did not shy away from expressing their feelings over the official expansion. (Shutterstock/File)

Micro-blogging platform Twitter has finally decided to officially expand its character limit from 140 to 280, a move that met with mixed reactions from its Indonesian users.

“We’re expanding the character limit! We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves,” Twitter tweeted in its official account.

Prior to the official cap increase, Twitter had made the 280-character limit available to several selected users during a trial period since September.

As in the trial period, the Indonesians, who are the third largest Twitter users globally, did not shy away from expressing their feelings over the official expansion.

A lot of users, who were not selected by Twitter to test the 280-character limit, began to tweet very long tweets about what they were doing and what they were feeling. 

A number of users also did not hesitate to troll the timeline by posting meaningless tweets such as pressing enter 280 times and causing a huge gap in the timeline, or typing as many random letters as possible, just because they could.

“I am sure their decision to expand was based on input and their need to adapt, because frankly, Twitter desperately needs to find a way to drive more users to its micro-blogging platform again,” social media expert Enda Nasution said.

Last month, Twitter reported that its loss for the past quarter had narrowed, as the company suggested it could reach profitability for the first time in the fourth quarter, according to reports from AFP.

Enda said expanding the character limit was just one of the many updates Twitter needed to implement if it wanted to survive.

“Nowadays, people prefer using Facebook or Instagram to do live reporting because they allow users to stream videos. This feature is not yet available on Twitter,” Enda said.

Like Enda, Indonesian Twitter celebrity Della Rossa Wunga, who gained international fame on 9GAG because of her almost twin-like resemblance to Justin Bieber, also embraced the expansion.

“I love tweeting about movies. So, I could express myself more in 280 characters,” Della said.

Separately, social media strategist Aulia Masna feels undecided about the expansion. For him, the move has its benefits and consequences.

“For commercial tweets, it’s going to be a game changer. Brands tend to want to take advantage of the rules which means we’ll be seeing ads or paid tweets by influencers using the full length,” Aulia said. 

“This [the expansion] also means politicians will be more verbose in sharing their thoughts, which can both be good and bad. Given the recent comments by some politicians, though, many people probably wished they’d shut up instead,” he added.

On the other hand, a number of active Twitter users in Indonesia fully rejected the expansion.

“The 140-character limit forced users to explain something as briefly and as concisely as possible. It drives people to get to the point.,” actress Kirana Larasati told The Jakarta Post.

Lydia, a user who is also a public servant working for the Culture and Education Ministry, suggested that Twitter should have focused its efforts on suspending user accounts that propagated hate speech and hoaxes.

“The character limit expansion gives more room for racists and bigots to express their hateful ideas,” she said.

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