China-based social network Sina Weibo is set to begin removing its 140-character limit from January 28, said Sina CEO Wang Gaofei.
The new format will apparently still only show 140 characters in a user’s feed, according to the Shanghai Daily, but a link will appear that can be clicked to reveal additional content. The new messaging system will be tested from January 28 among selected users, with an expected wider rollout a month later.
Launched in 2009 by Sina Corporation, Sina Weibo is a social network similar to Twitter and Facebook, and is one of the most popular online services in China, with around 200 million active users. Sina’s decision to remove its 140-character restriction echoes the current dilemma faced by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who is in the midst of building a new tool that will reportedly make it possible to expand tweets to 10,000 characters.
While the possibility of ditching the 140-character limit has led to heated debate about whether such a move would ultimately kill Twitter as we know it, Dorsey has pointed to the increasing number of people posting screenshots of large swathes of text as proof that the public want this change. Certainly, given Twitter’s current turmoil, with shares falling to an all-time low this week, it seems anything is worth a try as the company looks to boost its monthly active users (MAUs) and grow globally. But in so doing, it may also lose some loyal users who love the brevity that’s enforced by the 140-character restriction.
Whether Sina Weibo’s move to open up its messages to more characters proves a good idea remains to be seen, but it’s clear that both Twitter and Sina are eyeing the limitless writing canvas afforded by the mighty Facebook as they seek to grow their respective services.