Twitter users have asked for an edit button since the app launched 16 years ago. So now the company plans to make it a reality finally.
Tweeting has always been a simple but risky business. Users quickly generate thoughts posted on the platform for all to see, no matter how much the author regrets it. Once the tweet is sent, there is no going back. The internet has made a popular meme out of “tweets aren’t loading right now,” the message that shows up when a tweet has been purged. Users must delete their tweets and repost them to correct typos and grammar mistakes.
The format was suitable for hot takes and heated discussion until users decided to delete the thoughts they no longer had out of regret. Many users, big and small, have complained about not being able to take back or edit something they said. Even Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, who is set to become an owner of Twitter, wished he could make changes to his tweets.
I meant lämpe. Where’s the edit function when you really need it!?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2019
Twitter users can rejoice knowing that the company’s next venture after the downvote is a button that allows them to modify their thoughts after the fact. This change would be the most influential in the app’s history since it doubled the tweet character limit to 280 in 2017.
Twitter’s Past Attempts To Get Things Right
Twitter tried a feature called Fleets that deletes posts after 24 hours in 2020, similar to social media rival Snapchat. It rolled out another feature this past week called Circles that will allow specific tweets to be directed to small groups of people. In addition, Twitter recently changed its stance to encourage people who might be more careful with their words to tweet. The company wants to relieve its users of the stress of getting a tweet right.
We’re hoping that with the availability of Edit Tweet, tweeting will feel more approachable and less stressful. You should be able to participate in the conversation in a way that makes sense to you.
Twitter employees will be the first to try the edit feature for internal testing, followed by Twitter Blue subscribers. It has not specified when the feature will be available to all users. However, the news of the change did not bring unanimous praise, as it only brought fears some have had for years about what it could mean for the platform.
if you see an edited Tweet it's because we're testing the edit button
this is happening and you'll be okay
— Twitter (@Twitter) September 1, 2022
What Could Go Wrong?
For years, Twitter was hesitant to add an edit button because of the ways people could abuse it. The biggest concern was that a user could change a tweet to be misleading once it has been widely shared. One could cause confusion and controversy by changing the tweet’s message and still have thousands of comments that agree with it. Someone could retweet something that gets changed to something else with which they disagree. Some fear the feature could lead to a rise in misinformation, making it easier to put fake news in widely spread tweets.
How the Twitter Edit Button Will Function
The social media giant intends to add measures to safeguard its new feature from disinformation spreaders. Users will be allowed 30 minutes to edit their tweet after it has been posted. Twitter will also label a tweet to inform users that it has been edited. Users can then click the label to view its editing history.
The company hopes the testing feedback will resolve any potential issues. But, even with these measures, people like Rachel Tobac, the CEO of SocialProof Security, still oppose the edit button. She applauds Twitter for its efforts but thinks they may not stop false tweets that can go viral within seconds.
I don’t think we need to add in another potential disinformation feature that could be abused ahead of the next election cycle.
Other experts have similar concerns about how the feature could be exploited but still have hope. For example, the 30-minute time limit and the edit history could stop many malicious tweets from reaching the masses.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The New York Times: Farewell, Typos! Twitter Unveils an Edit Button; by Kate Conger
The Washington Post: Twitter tests edit button as experts warn it could be misused; by Rachel Lerman and Will Oremus
CNN: Twitter is finally testing an edit button; by Clare Duffy