It’s a feature that Twitter users have been requesting for so long that it’s become a meme, but now the mythical “edit button” is actually becoming a reality. Twitter has announced that it’s working to allow users to edit their tweets after posting them. The idea is that you’ll be able to fix any typos or errors in a tweet without sacrificing any replies, retweets, or likes it’s already accrued. Twitter plans to begin testing the feature with Twitter Blue subscribers in “the coming months,” the company said Tuesday.
Jay Sullivan, the company’s VP of consumer product, said that editing has been “the most requested Twitter feature for many years” in a thread on Tuesday. The company has been looking into how to build the feature “in a safe manner” since last year.
“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,” he said. “Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.”
3/ 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.
— Jay Sullivan (@jaysullivan) April 5, 2022
People have been asking for an edit button for so long that it’s become something of an ongoing joke. “Tweets, but editable” has become the standard response to discovering a typo in a popular tweet. But Twitter’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey, was reluctant to add such a feature in the past. During a talk in 2018, Dorsey expressed concern that an edit button could let users change a tweet’s meaning after it gets widely shared, and in 2020 he said Twitter would “probably never” add the feature.
Concerns like these have consistently cropped up around requests for an edit button. But as my colleague Casey Newton argued in 2017, numerous other platforms, including Facebook, Medium, and Instagram, already allow users to edit their posts, and the features haven’t been accompanied by widespread abuse. But that doesn’t mean that abuse is unheard of. According to Meta’s former chief security officer Alex Stamos, Facebook’s editing feature has been abused in the past, in one case to help a cryptocurrency scam.
Twitter’s opinion on an edit button appears to have shifted after Parag Agrawal became CEO. On April 1st, the annual day of corporate lies, Twitter’s official account said it was “working on an edit button.” Although it was taken as a joke at the time, Twitter product lead Michael Sayman later pointed to the tweet as the company’s “official statement” on the feature.
Days later, after it emerged that Elon Musk had bought a 9.2 percent stake in the company, the Tesla CEO’s first significant tweet was to poll his followers on whether Twitter should add an edit button. 73.4 percent were in favor.
The company already has an undo feature that lets you recall a tweet before you send it, though it’s only available for Twitter Blue subscribers.