Twitter has resisted adding the ability to edit tweets for years, even though it was the most requested feature of its users, including potential owners Elon Musk. Former CEO Jack Dorsey said in 2020 that the company may never introduce an edit button, explaining that doing so would destroy the “ambience”” from the early days of Twitter as an SMS messaging service.
Experts have repeatedly pointed out that even with a full tweet history, the ability to edit tweets could allow bad actors to rewrite history and spread misinformation.
For example, innocuous tweets that go viral can easily be edited to display disinformation or hate speech at a later date, and even if a previous version of a tweet is visible, it doesn’t necessarily mean people will read them. In theory, the edit button would also make well-known users whose tweets gained mass attention a bigger target for hackers if bad actors knew that tweets could guarantee a large audience.
Users will be informed of the fact that tweets have been edited with icons, timestamps and tags, Twitter Say Designed to make it clear that the original message has been modified within half an hour of being sent. Tweets can be edited “multiple times” within that time frame, and when someone clicks on the tag, a log of how the tweet changed will be displayed.
Twitter acknowledged that people could abuse the feature and said it was testing the potential. Internet policy expert Konstantinos Komaitis said this may be an attempt to downplay its importance.
“It’s up to Twitter to decide how to design it, it can either help people with typos and that’s all, or it can actually change, I believe, the whole public discourse and the way we interact and share understanding,” he said.
Giving users an edit button could also be interpreted as a convenient distraction from the deeper issues the platform is dealing with: its impending legal battle with Musk, which former security chief turned whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko has revealed , as well as its deep-seated and persistent concerns about its inability to curb trolling, hate speech, and other harmful practices. Edit buttons do not solve these problems.
Komaitis noted that alerting users that a tweet has been edited is crucial to minimizing the potential for abuse, citing the example of someone tweeting a photo of a cute dog to generate a positive response, then tweeting replace it with A picture of Hitler.