Since Twitter confirmed it was working on an ‘edit’ button – perhaps because of a certain interjection from a certain billionaire – people have wondered what form it might take.
Naturally, there are concerns about public figures altering the record, the impact on people who shared the original tweet and much, much more. However, judging by the poll from Twitter’s new largest shareholder Elon Musk, 73% of 4.4 million people casting the vote wanted an edit button.
Since that poll, we’ve started to learn more about how Twitter might enact the feature. Noted reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong has delved within the app to discover a version that would make the edited tweet immutable (via The Verge).
That would make it more of a replacement for the original tweet than an edited tweet. According to Wong “instead of mutating the Tweet text within the same Tweet (same ID), it re-creates a new Tweet with the amended content, along with the list of the old Tweets prior of that edit.”
A clearly marked version of the new tweet with the option to tap to see the original could allay many of the concerns about the edit button. Depending on how that is showcased to the reader, it might be an easy way for people to clean up their language and typos without having to delete the tweet and start again.
Musk himself believes that any edit to the tweet should reset any likes and tweets to avoid unsuspecting users being caught out by content they did not consent to broadcast.
Our own Hannah Davies reckons that an edit button is “the last thing Twitter needs“
She argues: “With politicians, news sources, celebrities and public health agencies tweeting and retweeting to communicate with the masses, an edit button seems like a recipe for misinformation – something Twitter has been leading a crusade against in recent years by removing content and suspending users for posting misleading statements.”