After years of it being the most requested tweet upgrade, and repeated rebuffs from Twitter itself, along with various justifications for why it can’t happen, it seems that Elon Musk is looking to use his newfound sway as the company’s biggest shareholder (and latest board member) to make tweet editing a reality.
Do you want an edit button?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
As you can see, nearly 4 million people have voted in Musk’s poll, with 73.5% of them in favor of an edit option.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal also suggested that it may well become a reality, with this callback to Musk’s own tweet on how Twitter is being run.
In fact, Twitter actually noted late last week that it is working on an edit button.
we are working on an edit button
— Twitter (@Twitter) April 1, 2022
Though the specific date saw it dismissed as a joke – but according to Twitter’s Michael Sayman, another new voice at the company, maybe not.
That’s still somewhat unclear, but the accumulation of all of these elements does seem to suggest that Twitter is at least exploring an edit option once again, which could well be launched soon, making both Agrawal and Musk look like saviors for the post-Jack Dorsey era of the app.
As noted, Twitter has long resisted calls for an edit button, with Dorsey citing concerns around users changing retweeted messages after the fact, while also suggesting that the more concise nature of tweets leaves them even more susceptible to subtle edits that could be problematic in various ways.
In fact, in early 2020, Dorsey pretty much killed off any hopes of an edit option ever making it to the live environment – though that was before Twitter added an ‘Undo’ option for paying Twitter Blue subscribers which, in some ways, provides the closest it seemed we’d get to a form of tweet clarification.
I mean, it’s not editing. Deleting and re-sharing an updated tweet is pretty much what you can do already. But given Dorsey’s previous statements on the potential of an edit option, within a short window after posting, it seemed like this was it, and would only be available if you paid up.
But Dorsey has moved on, gone off into the world of crypto evangelism, while Musk has moved in, bringing with him his seemingly insatiable need for attention and adoration. Within that, tweet editing now does seem very much like a potential reality – though as with every Twitter update, I would also caution against pinning too much hope on it being the thing that will solve all your tweet concerns, and bring harmony to the app.
Spoiler alert: It won’t.
That’s not to say it won’t be a handy addition, but I feel like most Twitter changes get blown massively out of proportion, only for interest to die down within a few days, as per the great Twitter Circle of Life.
Longer tweets was a disaster, till a week later when it wasn’t. Audio tweets had celebrities sharing like mad – for about two days in total. Changing stars to hearts was the death knell for the app, while Fleets was an annoyance for, what, a matter of hours?
As with every Twitter trend, it’s the biggest, most important, most critical thing in the world at that time, on which everyone feels like they have to share a unique take (note: generally not unique). And then it isn’t. Just like that.
I suspect tweet editing will be the same, a sudden spike in the Google Trends chart for mentions of ‘edit button’, recorded for all posterity in the internet’s perfect memory. Then no one will care anymore.
We’ll use it, sure, it’ll be okay. But in much the same way that Clubhouse’s early invite-only approach helped to juice its hype cycle, the only real reason people care so much about tweet editing is because Twitter has denied it to them. If it had been built in from the start, it would be a nothing process, the same as it is on Instagram, Facebook, etc. But absence has made the hearts of Twitter users grow more demanding – but in reality, once it’s here, it’ll only be a novelty for a matter of hours for each user.
But it could be a PR winner – and again, we all know that Elon is keen to be the coolest billionaire in history, wielding a flame thrower in one hand and a ticket to Mars on the other.
Cyber trucks are cool, right? And memes and dating musicians and going on trendy podcasts. Elon Musk very clearly wants the status, and with billions to throw into such, he may well have enough to make tweet editing a reality.
Wonder if he sees the $3 billion he spend on Twitter stock as being critical in his efforts to avoid taxes ‘preserve the light of consciousness’?
UPDATE: Twitter has now confirmed that it is working on an edit button, though it says that Musk’s involvement had nothing to do with the project.
Twitter says that it will begin testing the edit button with Twitter Blue subscribers ‘in the coming months’.