Germans break internet as Twitter switches to 280 characters | News | DW | 08.11.2017
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Germans break internet as Twitter switches to 280 characters

Germans are taking to Twitter with twice the gusto now that the site has doubled its character limit to 280. Some used the opportunity to showcase examples of the German language's notoriously long word constructions.

Germans have greeted the news that Twitter now permits 280-character missives with twice the tweeting. The Justice Ministry's social media team, for one example, found clear glee in tweeting the previously prohibitive "Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz," which runs 63 characters — 65 with a space on each side — making it Germany's longest word. (The law refers to labeling food products made from cows.)

With relief, police in Munich informed followers that social media specialists could now tweet the complete details of an incident involving the driver of a forklift, or a "Niederflurförderfahrtzeugführer."

Apparently not feeling particularly inspired, Angela Merkel's spokesman said he would remain a man of few words — and few characters — on Twitter. "Brevity is the sister of talent," Steffen Seibert wrote, quoting the Russian short-story author and dramatist Anton Chekov.

The epd press agency, which reports on the behalf of the official Evangelical Church in Germany, sought out an "expert" to dispute the notion that anything of great written value would be found on Twitter at all — either briefly or at the full new length of 280 characters. "Users will not in the future write on Twitter as if they were Thomas Mann or Theodor W. Adorno," the linguist Peter Schlobinski told epd on Wednesday. He wasn't sure whether Twitter writers would even know what to do with the extra space: "To suddenly have more characters available goes against the expectation of the user."

However, the move was welcomed by German Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach, who have had trouble fitting the full official name of their club into past tweets.

Like its rival Facebook, Twitter has recently faced its share of controversy as it has emerged in the United States, where the companies are headquartered, that the dot-coms sold advertising to Russia-linked agencies that sought to flip the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump — one of the site's top users.  

mkg/rc (epd, dpa)

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