Twitter offers more space for hate

Twitter recently increased its character limit from 140 to 280, which means more space for abuse and harassment.

Twitter character limit, Twitter 280 characters
Stephen Lawson

I’ve been avoiding Twitter lately, and I’m not likely to return anytime soon. Twitter has long been a haven for hate, and its half-assed attempts to rein in abusive behavior don’t give me much confidence that it will improve. Twitter Support and the company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, talk a good game, but when it comes down to actually doing something to make the platform less toxic, well, let’s just say they fall short (read: fail miserably). 

From turning a blind eye to racist and sexist harassment (see: Leslie Jones) to suspending the accounts of users who call out hateful speech and behavior while ignoring their abusers to verifying the account of a known white supremacist, it seems that, for Twitter, hate isn’t a bug on the platform — it’s a feature. 

And now, instead of focusing on fixing its hate problem, Twitter has decided the bigger problem facing users is a scarcity of characters. Last week, after testing the new limits with a small group of users throughout September, Twitter rolled out a 280-character limit to all users. Oh, fantastic – now Nazis can be twice as abusive in half the tweets. 

Twitter should focus on these issues instead

There are so many other issues Twitter could be focusing on; this article from The Daily News highlights three things Twitter users would rather have than more characters. Not surprisingly, number one is “Abuse Protections.” Number two is “Limiting President Trump,” and three is “An Edit Button.” 

Funny, I don’t see “Double the Number of Characters Allowed” anywhere on that list. And what was Twitter’s response to these concerns? As The Daily Dot reports, “’The new limit won’t change anything because no one will use it. The company claimed in a blog post yesterday that its limited 280 character test showed only 5 percent of tweets were longer than 140 characters, and only 2 percent were longer than 190.”

By all means, let’s focus on a feature that Twitter itself admits no one will ever use — and that most users actively dislike — instead of what users are actually asking for. But, hey, at least they’re consistent — Twitter hasn’t listened to user complaints for years; why should they start now?

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