After receiving several requests over the years, Twitter is now allowing users to edit their tweets up to 30 minutes after they have been sent.
Later this month, customers to Twitter’s $5 a month Blue subscription service will be able to use the function once it is first made available just to staff members of Twitter for testing. It’s very likely that an edit button will eventually be made accessible to all users, given that Twitter Blue serves as a test environment for the company’s new features.
The ability to edit tweets has long been the most desired feature by Twitter’s users, including potential owner Elon Musk, but the company has avoided adding it. The firm would probably never add an edit button, according to former CEO Jack Dorsey, who explained in 2020 that doing so would disrupt the “vibe” from Twitter’s early days as an SMS messaging service.
Even if a complete history of tweets is available, experts have frequently noted that the capacity to alter tweets could enable malicious actors to rewrite history and disseminate false information.
For instance, innocent tweets that go viral could simply be changed to subsequently exhibit hate speech or disinformation, and even if the tweet’s earlier iterations are viewable, it doesn’t guarantee that readers would view them. Theoretically, if hackers knew their tweets would be seen by a large audience, an edit option would make famous users’ accounts even more attractive targets for hacking.
An emblem, time stamp, and label that, according to Twitter, are intended to make it evident that the original message has been amended within half an hour of being sent, will notify users that a tweet has been edited. Within that time window, tweets can be altered “a few times,” and when someone taps the label, a history of the changes made to the tweet will be shown.
The business claims it is testing for this possibility and has acknowledged that users may abuse the tool. Konstantinos Komaitis, an expert in internet policy, believes that it is probably an effort to minimize the significance.
Giving users the option to edit their posts could also be seen as a useful diversion from the platform’s more serious issues, such as its impending legal dispute with Musk, the obvious privacy and security flaws exposed by former security official turned whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, and ongoing worries about its ingrained inability to stop trolling, hate speech, and other harmful behaviors. Nothing about an edit button addresses these problems.
Komaitis cited the example of someone tweeting a photo of a lovely dog to garner good comments and then switching it for an image of Hitler to highlight the need for alerting viewers that a tweet has been changed.
By restricting access to the function to paying customers for the time being, Twitter might significantly reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the number of people who are likely to abuse it.
However, it also begs the question of whether a modified tweet will be considered a genuine tweet. The number of daily active users might be distorted by this. It’s also questionable whether giving the feature to the platform’s most harmful user base is truly equivalent to allowing paying members to try it out.