Years of user requests culminated in Twitter adding an edit button that would allow users to modify their tweets for up to 30 minutes after they’ve been published. It’s doubtful that this addition will address the most pressing issues confronting the business, and it may even make matters worse in certain circumstances.
The feature will be tested internally within Twitter first, and then made available to Blue subscribers later this month for $5 per month. Since Twitter Blue serves as a beta for the company’s future services, it’s possible that an edit button will be made available to everyone.
For a long time, users, including would-be owner Elon Musk, have asked Twitter for the option to modify their tweets, but the company has resisted. In 2020, Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey indicated that the firm will likely never include an edit button since doing so would spoil the “vibe” from Twitter’s origins as an SMS messaging service.
Even if a whole history of tweets is accessible, experts have frequently warned that the capacity to alter tweets might allow bad actors to rewrite history and spread falsehoods.
Even if the history of a tweet may be viewed, it doesn’t guarantee that anybody will bother to look at older versions that can contain disinformation or hate speech, even if the original tweet was innocent.
If bad actors know that tweets with an edit button are guaranteed to reach a large audience, then those individuals who already attract a lot of attention are even more likely to be hacked.
Twitter has introduced a new icon, time stamp, and label to indicate whether a tweet has been updated within the first half an hour after it has been sent. Within that window, tweets can be altered “a few times,” and the history of edits will be shown when the label is tapped.
The purpose of the test is to “better understand how Edited Tweets will impact the way people use Twitter” and “to plan for and anticipate what might happen if we bring it to everyone,” according to a Twitter spokesperson.
The firm has stated that it is testing for the possibility that users will abuse the function. Expert on internet policy Konstantinos Komaitis believes this is an attempt to minimize the situation’s gravity.
He says, “Depending on how Twitter decides to build this, it can either help people with typos and there’s nothing more to it, or it can genuinely transform, I feel, the whole public conversation and the way we communicate and share an understanding.”
Giving users the ability to edit their posts could be seen as a distraction from the platform’s more serious issues, such as its impending legal battle with Musk, the egregious privacy and security flaws exposed by former security head turned whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, and the persistent worries that it is unable to effectively prevent trolling, hate speech, and other toxic behaviors. A simple edit button won’t help with these problems.
Komaitis noted the importance of alerting users when a tweet has been modified, citing the example of someone tweeting a photo of a lovely dog in hopes of eliciting good reactions, only to replace the image with one of Hitler.
He stated, “We know these scenarios may happen, and it’s not because of Twitter or the internet, but because that’s how society already functions,” adding that the advantages of an edit button are probably outweighed by the disadvantages.
“Twitter needs to come up with as many protections as possible to guarantee that it is solely for little mistakes, or a poor choice of words, rather than radically changing the way the conversations are going place,” says one expert.
Twitter may be able to significantly reduce, though not completely eliminate, the number of users who are likely to abuse the function by limiting access to paying members at least for the time being.