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Twitter Rumored to Be Working on Edit Feature for Tweets

Twitter bird in spray paint photograph by Andreas Eldh

You’ve done it again: misspelled a word in your tweet. Now is the time of reckoning. Do you leave the tweet as is, or do you delete it and tweet an improved version? Wait. Someone’s already re-tweeted you! There’s no going back now. If only you could edit that small (but glaring) error out of the tweet.

Though it’s not possible now, a time when you can edit your tweets might be near according to Matthew Keys of The Desk. Though CNET’s sources claim otherwise, Keys reports that three Twitter employees told him an editing feature is currently a “top priority” at Twitter. The feature aims to make Twitter more friendly toward media organizations and original content producers.

 

Editing Tweets

According to Keys’ sources, once you tweet something, an edit feature will appear allowing you to make “slight changes” to your tweet like removing a word, correcting a pesky misspelling, or adding a couple missing words. Once you submit your edit, it will be immediately visible in users’ feeds as well as any retweeted instances of your tweet.

To prevent abuse, Twitter will reportedly focus on ensuring that edits are made to correct erroneous information rather than to change the overall message of tweets. This would prevent, for example, a marketer from creating a viral tweet that is retweeted across the network, only to edit it hours later with a promotion or advertisement. A number of measures will be taken to maintain the integrity of tweets. First, the edit feature will only be available for a short amount of time after publishing (the amount of time has not yet been specified). Next, edits will be limited to once per tweet, and the number of characters or words that can be changed will be limited. Finally, an “editorial algorithm” will reportedly be able to detect whether an edit is being made to change the nature of a tweet or to merely fix a mistake.

 

The Dangers of Edited Tweets

Twitter’s goal in creating an editing feature would be to make tweets a more reliable source of information. Making tweets editable ensures that errors can be amended before false news goes viral, like when the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press. The SEA used the heavily followed account to tweet a false message, causing the Dow Jones to fall more than 150 points.

A feature for editing tweets would not be a perfect fix for this problem, but it would be a start. For one, edits to tweets would not appear in manually retweeted messages. It’s also common for errors to be found some time after erroneous news is reported; if the time limit for editing tweets were not long enough, it could be impossible to edit a tweet once accurate information comes in after the original message.

Regardless, the feature would undoubtedly be welcomed by social media users, who are already used to editing their posts on Google+ and, recently, Facebook.

Keys’ sources say the edit feature for tweets should be available in a matter of “weeks, or months at the most.” As with previous product releases, Twitter will test the feature with select partners before releasing the feature to all users.

 
What do you think: would an edit feature for tweets be useful?

Featured image via Andreas Eldh

 
 
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