Last week, Twitter confirmed that they have been working on an edit button for the last year. The news came from the @TwitterComms account to clarify that the idea did not come from a poll, referencing a poll Elon Musk, the company’s largest shareholder, tweeted, asking users if they wanted an edit button. The company said they would start testing within @TwitterBlue Labs in the coming months to see what works, what doesn’t and what’s possible. Available for $2.99 a month, Twitter Blue is the social media platform’s first subscription product, launched last year. Twitter shared a mockup of what the edit feature might look like.
Jay Sullivan, head of consumer product at Twitter, also chimed in, sharing @TwitterComms’ tweet and adding some additional context.
“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,” Sullivan said in an April 5 Twitter thread.
There are other concerns like integrity and transparency that come into question if an edit button is added.
Twitter users have concerns
Twitter users had some strong responses to the edit button concept. Some want to see a time limit imposed for editing tweets, say within 30 to 60 seconds of tweeting. Others want the Twitter feed to indicate that a tweet has been edited and to show the edit history for the sake of transparency and as a matter of public record. Users pointed out that other platforms like Facebook allow for posts to be edited and have done so for a long time. Users also pointed out that, if Twitter has been working on an edit button for so long, why are they just now confirming it? Is it because their largest shareholder brought the issue forward?
Existing options for editing
Twitter currently has two features that allow users to alter their original tweets: delete and undo. Anyone can delete their tweets from their timeline at any time. For example, a user could delete a tweet if they shared an unpopular opinion and they don’t want blowback, or they reacted strongly to something they now want to walk back. Twitter added an undo feature last year which has similar functionality to an edit button. A Twitter user can tweet something, realize they made a typo, and then undo it. The “undo tweet” feature is only available to paying Twitter Blue subscribers. Users can set a timer for up to 30 seconds to click “undo” before their tweet, reply or thread is posted to their timelines.
“Correct mistakes easily by previewing what your tweet will look like before the world can see it,” explain Sara Beykpour, senior director of product management, and Smith Gupta, staff product manager for Twitter in a June 3, 2021 blog post.
We can see both sides to this: Twitter wanting to beef up its paid features for its Twitter Blue subscription service and users questioning how it would work and having concerns about altering what has effectively become a public record. We don’t have the answers, but it seems that the delete buttons and undo tweet features solve many of the problems that an edit button would address. It feels like there is a lot of energy going into something that already exists but, you know, we’re just Twitter users and observers. Twitter didn’t ask for our opinion…or anyone else’s for that matter.