Twitter: 280 characters for (nearly) everyone

NEW YORK - Twitter (TWTR), the microblogging service that made its mark by forcing users to pack their deep thoughts into no more than 140 characters, wants to give people more room to express themselves.

The company said Tuesday that it is expanding the maximum message length for nearly all users to 280 characters. Users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean will still have the original limit. That's because writing in those languages uses fewer characters.

The company says 9 percent of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. This causes people to spend more time editing their tweets or not sending them out at all. Twitter hopes that the expanded limit will get more people tweeting more, helping its lackluster user growth.

"We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn't easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out and listening to your feedback," Aliza Rosen, a product manager at Twitter, said in a post on the company's blog explaining the new policy.

Twitter's character limit was created so that tweets could fit into a single text message, back when many people were using texts to receive tweets. Now, most people use Twitter through its mobile app, which means the 140-character limit is no longer a technical constraint.

Twitter started testing the new limit in September and is starting to roll it out immediately. Longer messages "makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before," Rozen said.

The company has been slowly easing restrictions to let people cram more characters into a tweet. It stopped counting polls, photos, videos and other things toward the limit.

The 280-character limit test comes as the number of new Twitter users has stalled. Twitter refreshed the site in June in a move to make its platform faster and easier to use, but the redesign was met with mixed reviews, according to CNET.