A crucial issue is how Musk's ownership of Twitter, and private control of social media platforms generally, affect the broader public well-being. In a series of deleted tweets, Musk made several suggestions about how to change Twitter, including adding an edit button for tweets and granting automatic verification marks to premium users.
There is no experimental evidence about how an edit button would change information transmission on Twitter. However, it's possible to extrapolate from previous research that analyzed deleted tweets.
There are numerous ways to retrieve deleted tweets, which allows researchers to study them. While some studies show significant personality differences between users who delete their tweets and those who don't, these findings suggest that deleting tweets is a way for people to manage their online identities.
Analyzing deleting behavior can also yield valuable clues about online credibility and disinformation. Similarly, if Twitter adds an edit button, analyzing the patterns of editing behavior could provide insights into Twitter users' motivations and how they present themselves.
Studies of bot-generated activity on Twitter have concluded that nearly half of accounts tweeting about COVID-19 are likely bots. Given partisanship and political polarization in online spaces, allowing users — whether they are automated bots or actual people — the option to edit their tweets could become another weapon in the disinformation arsenal used by bots and propagandists. Editing tweets could allow users to selectively distort what they said, or deny making inflammatory remarks, which could complicate efforts to trace misinformation.
Musk has also indicated his intention to combat Twitter bots, or automated accounts that post rapidly and repeatedly in the guise of people. He has called for authenticating users as real human beings.
Given challenges such as doxing and other malicious personal harms online, it's important for user authentication methods to preserve privacy. This is particularly important for activists, dissidents and whistleblowers who face threats for their online activities. Mechanisms such as decentralized protocols can enable authentication without sacrificing anonymity.