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Twitter says it's testing an edit button — after years of clamoring from users

The Twitter logo is seen at their headquarters in San Francisco. The company say it's testing out an edit button, which is its most-requested feature.
Amy Osborne
/
AFP via Getty Images
The Twitter logo is seen at their headquarters in San Francisco. The company say it's testing out an edit button, which is its most-requested feature.

For years, people have had to delete and repost their typo-ridden or mistagged tweets rather than edit them retroactively — a relative rarity among social media platforms and a bother to many users.

Twitter users have long pushed for the platform to offer an "edit" button, even as top executives and safety officials expressed their doubts. But the pro-edit camp could soon see their wishlist granted, as the company is in the process of testing that functionality.

"If you see an edited Tweet it's because we're testing the edit button," it tweeted on Thursday. "This is happening and you'll be okay."

It's not clear whether, or how many, users will see edited tweets in their feeds. But the platform did share a screenshot of what that feature will look like, with a pen icon and a "last edited" timestamp in the bottom left corner of a tweet.

Twitter explained in a blog post that it is first testing the feature internally with a small group, and plans to roll it out to Twitter Blue subscribers — first localized to a single, unspecified country and then gradually expanded — in the coming weeks.

"Given that this is our most requested feature to date, we wanted to both update you on our progress and give you and a heads up that, even if you're not in a test group, everyone will still be able to see if a Tweet has been edited," it added.

Testers will be able to edit tweets "a few times" in the 30 minutes right after they post. Edited tweets will show the icon, timestamp and label, which any user can click on to see the tweet's full edit history and earlier versions.

The company hopes the time limit and edit history will help "protect the integrity of the conversation and create a publicly accessible record of what was said."

Skeptics have long warned that an edit button could cause trouble, given Twitter's role in the public discourse and as a de-facto newswire. As NPR's Shannon Bond has reported, some in tech worry it could exacerbate Twitter's existing safety and misinformation issues, though they say some of those concerns can be mitigated by the way the button is designed.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as CEO in November, was opposed to the edit button and famously told The Verge in 2020 that "we'll probably never do it."

But times have changed even since then. Elon Musk polled his followers in April, when he offered to buy Twitter, and found that a vast majority were in favor (Musk has since rescinded his offer, and Twitter is now suing him to compel him to buy the company for $44 billion).

Michael Leggett, a former design lead and manager at Google and Facebook whose self-proclaimed "inattention to typos" has led him to favor an edit button, told Morning Edition in April that while it may sound like a simple feature to launch, it gets at a difficult problem.

"It's better to do it than to not do it, but it's better to not do it than to do it poorly," he added.

Now that Twitter's finally taking the edit button for a test drive, it says it will be collecting feedback and looking out for how people might misuse the feature as well as how it might impact the way people read, write and engage with tweets.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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