By Noah Newsome
Elm Staff Writer
The ability to go back on a published tweet and correct any mistakes may seem like a simple action to be able to do, and yet for 16 years, the ability to edit your tweets after they have gone live remains absent from one of the largest social media platforms in the world.
As simple as the feature seems, there are numerous factors that Twitter is likely to be considering when it comes to the implementation of an edit button.
One of the most immediate benefits that comes from the implementation of an edit button is the ability to go back and fix spelling errors that may have made their way into your tweet.
This can be especially helpful when fighting with the sometimes lackluster autocorrect that most mobile phones utilize.
It can be especially frustrating to have to delete and then remake a tweet in order to remedy any errors you might have made, even more so when the mistake was minor.
An edit feature can also help those who promote themselves or their products on Twitter as well.
Artists who post their work might notice a flaw in what they posted and instead of being able to edit the tweet and provide a new image, they are instead forced to make another tweet.
This issue can easily be solved by the inclusion of an editing feature, though the feature also has a high potential for abuse.
However, one of the primary features of Twitter is the ability to retweet something, allowing all of your followers to see it as well.
Any potential editing feature has the potential to abuse this feature, with a seemingly innocuous tweet gaining several retweets or likes before being edited to feature something harmful and derogatory.
This can be used to spread propaganda by bad actors or as an attempt to ruin the reputation of the person who retweeted the content prior to it being edited. Facebook, which added an edit feature in 2012, suffers acutely from this issue.
Edited pages are often used to promote scams, luring in unsuspecting victims before misleading them to part with their money or sensitive information.
The reverse is also possible, with people who make hurtful or hateful tweets being able to edit them into something innocuous and thus being able to deny that they ever caused harm.
There are ways to mitigate this drawback however, notably by having tweets display when they were edited and what the original version of the Tweet said.
While this may frustrate those who simply want to correct spelling and grammar mistakes, it also protects those who might fall victim to malicious editing, ensuring that the feature will not be used as a vehicle for deception.
The addition of the edit feature seems almost certain as Jay Sullivan, head of consumer product at Twitter, declared that they have been working on implementing the feature 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,” Sullivan said in a twitter thread. “Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.”
Elon Musk is also a proponent of the feature, and even held a poll on his account asking users if they want the ability to edit tweets.
As a joke, the poll had the options misspelled.
Despite the confirmation that the feature is in development there has yet to be an announcement as to when it is going to be implemented, though Twitter Blue users will have access to the feature first.
Many users hope the staff at Twitter are able to make the feature helpful without it being too viable for abuse.
Photo Courtesy of @elonmusk via Twitter
Featured Photo Caption: Twitter is not the only place where social media users ask for the ability to edit their posts. Prior to the creation of the edit feature on Instagram, users similarly asked for the for the ability to post-facto edit their posts on the platforms.