Twitter said on Tuesday that it is working on a mechanism for users to edit their 280-character messages, however the initiative has nothing to do with the fact that Elon Musk, a supporter of the edit feature, was recently disclosed as the company’s largest shareholder and now sits on its board of directors.
In the coming months, Twitter will test the feature in its paid service, Twitter Blue. The test would help it “understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s possible,” according to the company. As a result, most Twitter users may not be able to use it for a long time, if at all. Twitter representative Catherine Hill declined to comment on whether or not all users will be able to alter their tweets.
Many Twitter users have long wished for an edit button, including Kim Kardashian, Ice T, Katy Perry, and McDonald’s corporate account. “We are working on an edit button,” the business recently teased consumers in an April Fool’s Day tweet. The official Twitter account confirmed on Tuesday that the April 1 message was not a hoax and that it had been in the works since last year.
Twitter also stated that it did not receive the concept from Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Monday evening Twitter poll. Musk, who is a frequent Twitter user, asked whether anybody wanted an edit button, misreading “yes” as “yse” and “no” as “on.” As of Tuesday evening, more over 4 million individuals had cast ballots.
Musk also said he’s looking forward to “major enhancements to Twitter in the next months!” on Twitter.
Jay Sullivan, Twitter’s vice president of consumer product, tweeted Tuesday that an edit option has been the most requested new feature for years, with users wanting to rectify mistakes, typos, and “hot takes.”
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stated that the company has explored adding an edit button, but that “we’ll probably never implement it” in a January 2020 Q&A. He pointed out that Twitter’s present design maintains the spirit of its text-messaging beginnings — messages cannot be altered — as well as the potential for misunderstanding that may arise if users make modifications to a tweet that has already been widely shared. In November 2021, Dorsey stepped down as CEO.
People who study Twitter also believe that adding an edit button will change the essence of the platform, making it less effective as a historical repository for official remarks from politicians and other public figures. For better or worse, Twitter has “become the de facto news wire,” according to Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor who specializes in social media and propaganda studies.
Because tweets are frequently included in news reports, people who change significant or controversial tweets without leaving evidence of the original comment may face complications. Instead, Grygiel proposes that Twitter users be given a window of opportunity to alter their tweets before they are published.
Allowing strong Twitter users to alter their tweets would make them no longer be historical statements, according to Grygiel. “We need to consider the consequences, what these tweets mean, and who has authority.”
“Without things like time limits, restrictions, and openness regarding what has been modified, Edit might be exploited to alter the record of the public discourse,” Sullivan said on Twitter Tuesday evening. When we approach this work, the integrity of that public discourse is our primary goal.”
Musk, too, has indicated that a suggestion for a few-minute post-publication change window “seems acceptable.”
Musk appears to be someone who may benefit from a redo button. A $40 million SEC settlement and a requirement that Musk’s tweets be reviewed by a company counsel followed his tweet about taking Tesla private at $420 per share while money was not secured. Musk is currently entangled in a legal battle over the deal.
Earlier, Twitter appeared to be mocking Musk’s poll with a witty response. Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO, reposted the poll with a cryptic allusion to Musk’s earlier tweet, stating, “The ramifications of this poll will be critical.” Please vote with caution.” Musk used similar terminology in a March tweet outlining another of his surveys, this one asking if Twitter follows free speech ideals.