Sina Weibo, a 200 million user strong “microblogging” service out of China, is set to begin doing away with a 140 character limit for posts on their service’s developer platform, Weibo Open Platform. Similar to Twitter, the service was made to share blurbs about one’s life, professional and personal, in short format. After a long period of having the 140 character limit, of course, it won’t be removed overnight. According to a letter to developers from the Weibo Open Platform team, the change is slated to hit “senior users” starting January 28, with a widespread rollout on February 28. A screenshot posted under the name “Laiquzhijian”, the personal account of Weibo CEO Wang Gaofei was shown to confirm this. The new limit is said to be up to 2,000 characters, allowing for richer content and more self-expression in posts.
According to a retweet that Gaofei posted later on, the change will keep a similar feel to the current layout for users’ feeds. 140 characters of each post will be available for viewing upfront. Should a post exceed this limit, it will be clickable and bring users to a solo view of only that post, in its full glory. Users may also be able to paste in sections of text in a separate view, similar to how images and other multimedia are treated. These tweaks to the removal of the limit ensure that Sina Weibo maintains its traditional and arguably iconic feel and type of content. This move was only announced for the developer platform, however, and there has been no word on when it will roll out to the Sina Weibo official app or the website.
This comes hot on the heels of rumors pointing to a similar move for Twitter. With stock prices falling lower than ever and service outages pockmarking users’ experiences, Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey are likely desperate to get things back in order by any means, including experimentation. Removal of the character limit was already in place for direct messages, but proposing to remove the limit from tweets caused a bit of controversy. Sina Weibo’s announcement, however, is likely to push Twitter closer to going through with the move themselves.