Twitter has resisted adding the ability to edit tweets for years, even though this has been the most requested feature by its users, including would-be owners. Elon Musk. Former CEO Jack Dorsey said in 2020 that the company would probably never introduce an edit button, explaining that doing so would ruin the “vibe” of Twitter’s early days as an SMS messaging service.
Experts have repeatedly pointed out that the ability to edit tweets could allow bad actors to rewrite history and spread misinformation, even if a complete tweet history is available.
For example, harmless tweets that go viral could easily be edited to show misinformation or hate speech, and even if older versions of the tweet are visible, that doesn’t necessarily mean people will look at them. An edit button would also, in theory, make high-profile users whose tweets garner mass attention even bigger targets for hacking, if the bad actors know the tweets are guaranteed a mass audience.
Users will be alerted to the fact that tweets have been edited by an icon, a timestamp and a label, which Twitter said it is designed to make it clear that the original message has been modified within half an hour of being sent. Tweets can be edited “a few times” within that time period, and a log of how a tweet has been changed will be displayed when someone taps the tag.
Twitter has acknowledged that people could misuse the feature and says it is testing that potential. It’s likely an attempt to downplay importance, says Konstantinos Komaitis, an Internet policy expert.
“Depending on how Twitter decides to design this, it can either help people with typos and there’s nothing else, or it can change, I think, the whole public discourse and the way we interact and share an understanding,” he says. .
Giving users an edit button could also be seen as a useful distraction from the deeper issues facing the platform: its upcoming legal fight with Musk, the glaring privacy and security issues exposed by the former security chief turned whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, and ongoing concerns about his deep-seated inability to curb trolling, hate speech, and other toxic behavior. An edit button does nothing to solve these problems.
Alerting users that a tweet has been edited will be essential to minimizing the possibility of abuse, Komaitis said, using the example of someone tweeting an image of a cute dog to generate positive responses and then changing it to a photo of hitler.