In July 2006, Twitter went live with a 140-character limit and a dream. A mere four months later, a user noted that there was no edit button. And users have been screaming for one ever since. Or, in the language of Twitter, s c r e a m i n g. Or maybe screaminnnggggggg, depending on the day.
Oops, was that one too many g's to make the point? Too bad! Once your tweet is published, it's been a no-take-backs situation for a decade and a half. People born on the same day as Twitter can legally drive a car in the United States, but they still can't edit a tweet. Founder Jack Dorsey said as recently as 2020 that there would never be an edit button on Twitter.
But it's 2022 and Jack Dorsey stepped down from Twitter's board of directors in May. Then Sept. 1, Twitter announced that it's slowly rolling out an edit button ... in some places. (Coincidence? Who knows or cares!) But the edit button is just for some people. For now.
Why Twitter Is Getting a
Diet Edit Button
The company says an edit button is its most requested feature, which is a surprise to absolutely no one who has ever written or even just read a tweet or, especially, a tweet thread. Users will be allowed to edit a tweet "a few times," according to Twitter's blog, within 30 minutes of hitting "send." The edited tweet will say "last edited" with a date and time stamp, and users will be able to see past versions of the tweet.
So while the latest iteration of your 280-word masterpiece/hot take (the character limit was raised in 2017) will be the one that shows up in timelines, your errors will still be discoverable.
Twitter says the idea is to fix typos and add hashtags that you forgot. But users of the site are worried that people will bury their bad takes (racism, homophobia, harassment — if you're on Twitter you know the drill) under five layers of fixes. This could be especially bad if public figures start gaming the system, but the visibility of edits seems like a way to hold tweeters accountable.
Other social media, including Facebook and Instagram, let users edit their posts without any kind of retroactive visibility letting viewers see the error of one's ways. In its blog post, Twitter said its testing "includes how people might misuse the feature. You can never be too careful." So they seem to have read some of the comments about the casting of Amazon's "Lord of the Rings" series.
The first test group is limited to Twitter Blue subscribers in New Zealand, who pay US$5 per month for extra features. If the Kiwis can behave themselves, the edit button will come to users in the U.S., Canada and Australia.