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Twitter doubles its character limit

Twitter users will soon be able to post tweets of up to 280 characters. The social network hopes the change will boost engagement, and ultimately narrow the gap in it profits between it and its great rival, Facebook.

After Twitter launched a series of tests on whether to raise its 140-character limit back in September, the social network announced on Tuesday that it would roll out the new change in almost every language.

"We're expanding the character limit! We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves," Twitter tweeted from its official profile.

The 140-character limit will remain for Japanese, Korean and Chinese users, where the space limitations have been less of an issue given the density of their respective writing systems.

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In a blog post explaining the test's findings, product manager Aliza Rosen said that having the possibility to post longer tweets would not take away from the fast-moving nature of the site. "We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often," she said. "But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained."

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote that the longer limit had also had a positive affect on user engagement on the site.

"In addition to more Tweeting, people who had 280 characters received more Likes, Retweets, @mentions, Followers, and were more satisfied with Twitter. So, you'll be getting 280 too -- enjoy!" Stone tweeted.

It remained unclear when the change would be fully implemented, although it is expected to be rolled out on mobile devices in the upcoming Twitter application update.

Breathing down on Zuckerberg

Twitter is under pressure to boost advertisement revenue and draw in more users, as it continues to lag behind its great rival, Facebook. While the site has long been popular with journalists and lawmakers, Facebook continues to dominate mass appeal. Compared to Facebook's more than 2 billion monthly active users (those that have logged on in the past 30 days), Twitter boasts around 330 million.

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Twitter, which has long struggled to reach profitability, reported that it had narrowed its losses in its latest public earnings report last month. It suggested it could even reach profitability for the first time since being founded in 2006 by the end of the year.

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dm/kl (AFP, dpa)

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