Everything Is Just Dandy!

Twitter plans edit button, says Elon Musk’s poll had nothing to do with it

Ars Technica
Jon Brodkin
2022 04 06
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/04/twitter-plans-edit-button-says-elon-musks-poll-had-nothing-to-do-with-it/

Twitter app on a phone with an

Enlarge / Forthcoming “Edit Tweet” option as seen in a post by Twitter’s communications team.

Twitter is adding an edit button, the company said yesterday. The “Edit Tweet” option will become available “in the coming months” to users of the paid Twitter Blue subscription, with a potential rollout to other users later on.

The announcement came shortly after Elon Musk joined the Twitter board of directors and polled users about whether they want an edit button. But Twitter said the edit button has been in the works for months.

“Now that everyone is asking… yes, we’ve been working on an edit feature since last year!” Twitter’s communications team wrote in a tweet. “No, we didn’t get the idea from a poll 😉. We’re kicking off testing within @TwitterBlue Labs in the coming months to learn what works, what doesn’t, and what’s possible.” Twitter Blue currently has an “Undo Tweet” option that delays sending tweets for up to 60 seconds, but the planned edit button would be the first feature to let users change a tweet after it has been posted. Twitter Blue costs $2.99 a month in the US.

Twitter previously said it was “working on an edit button,” but the company sent that tweet on April Fools’ Day. A follow-up tweet yesterday said, “ps: we weren’t joking.”

After Musk asked users if they want an edit button, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal suggested that the results of Musk’s poll might influence Twitter policy. “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully,” Agrawal wrote on Monday.

Twitter plans time limits and other controls

Many Twitter users have requested an edit button, but there’s a potential downside in that people could significantly change tweets that are going viral. Twitter Head of Consumer Product Jay Sullivan provided more detail in a thread, saying there will be controls to prevent “misuse.”

He wrote:

Without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation. Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.

Therefore, it will take time and we will be actively seeking input and adversarial thinking in advance of launching Edit. We will approach this feature with care and thoughtfulness and we will share updates as we go.

As for why Twitter is working on an edit feature, Sullivan wrote, “Edit has been the most requested Twitter feature for many years. People want to be able to fix (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes, typos, and hot takes in the moment. They currently work around this by deleting and tweeting again.”

Co-founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey said in January 2020 that Twitter will “probably never” add an edit feature. Dorsey cited the possibility of someone “completely chang[ing] the content” of a tweet that has been retweeted by others.

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth wrote on Monday, “We solved this on Facebook a long time ago. You just include an indicator that it has been edited along with a change log. If you are really worried about embeds, they can point to a specific revision in that history but with a link to the latest edit. Not a real issue.”

Listing image by Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images