Weibo Tests Going Beyond 140 Characters, Twitter to Follow

Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, is contemplating raising its character limit to 2,000, just weeks after Twitter announced similar plans. Weibo, owned by Chinese Internet company Sina Corp., will begin testing its lengthened character limit with so-called VIP users, beginning January 28, offering the feature to its 200 million users a month later. According to Weibo, about 10 percent of original posts exceed 120 characters. Twitter, meanwhile, has said it is contemplating raising its character limit to 10,000 characters.

The Wall Street Journal reports more details on Weibo’s plan, including that, according to Weibo chief executive Wang Gaofei, only the first 140 characters will appear in the feed, with a link that, when tapped, will reveal the rest. When Weibo first experimented with extending the character limit in the beginning of 2014 it allowed users to post long articles, a feature that, says a company spokesman, was “popular from day one.”

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WSJ had earlier reported Twitter’s plan to expand its 140 characters, which created a social media firestorm. Chief executive Jack Dorsey then tweeted a 1,317-character explanation.

“We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it,” he said. “Instead, what if that text… was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.”

The average tweet runs about 67.9 characters, according to 2012 data, but there’s “a huge spike in the number of tweets that are exactly 140 characters long.”