And now for a Twitter story that doesn’t mention Elon Musk at all… ah, dammit. Okay, aside from that one time. Twitter’s most requested feature, almost since the dawn of time, has been an edit button. That’s because Twitter is fast and human brains are slow. Typos creep in. Sure, you can delete ’em and try again. You could also try and brazen it out, but when you’ve just used the hashtag #susanalbumparty, an edit button starts looking awfully attractive.
Unfortunately, it’s attractive for other reasons. Post something super-popular, get loads of engagement, and then alter it into something horrendous? A certain sort of creature that lives under a bridge might find this hilarious. And there’s a little bit of troll in all of us. Twitter isn’t happy handing out that kind of power. It keeps that stuff for itself. Or law enforcement.
The potential for misuse is what has kept the microblogging service from giving its users what they want. But recent events have brought the feature back to the fore. Yes, it’ll probably be confined to Twitter Blue, but this doesn’t solve the trolling issue. But a solution might have been found.
Looks like Twitter’s approach to Edit Tweet is immutable, as in, 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
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 16, 2022
Jane Manchun Wong, who regularly dissects upcoming features from popular messaging apps, claims that edits are coming to Twitter. But they won’t completely displace the old tweet. Instead, the service will replace the old tweet with a new one. The old one doesn’t disappear, according to Wong. It’ll hang around as part of a history of previous edits.
Hopefully, this will let you show that, at the time, that tweet was talking about your favourite rugby team and not, as it now suggests, the Nazi wing of PETA kerb-stomping hot-dog vendors in underdeveloped countries. It’s only acceptable to tweet ‘What a takedown’ in one of those situations.
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) April 15, 2022
Just what that will look like isn’t certain. Another researcher, Alessandro Paluzzi, has apparently spotted the feature being tested in the wild. It’s possible to see where an ‘edit’ option might turn up. A history of previous edits, though, doesn’t seem to be in evidence. It’s possible that Twitter is still working on the UI for that, and we’ll get to see it at a later stage. Maybe it’ll explain why users should pay to access an edit feature that just sends out a new tweet without concealing their shame. The way an edit button… really should. Unless someone took screenshots, of course. Screenshots are forever.