Is adding an edit button on Twitter a good thing? : NPR

Twitter customers have lengthy requested for an edit button and now the corporate says it is lastly coming. However skeptics warn it might change Twitter — and never for the higher.


Elon Musk spent a lot of his weekend tweeting criticism and jokes about Twitter, the place he lately grew to become the most important shareholder. However after information broke out that the billionaire had turned down a board seat on the firm, Musk deleted lots of these tweets. Although, what if he might edit his tweets as a substitute? Quickly, he could get that likelihood. NPR tech correspondent Shannon Bond has extra.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: For years, Twitter customers have requested for one function above all others – an edit button. Kim Kardashian desires it. So does fast-food big McDonald’s. Tech journalist Casey Newton says, it is simply widespread sense to let individuals change a tweet as a substitute of deleting it.

CASEY NEWTON: Principally, each different text-based platform on the web permits you to repair a mistake, proper? Whether or not it is Reddit or Fb or Tumblr or an Instagram remark, in the event you make a mistake, you may get in there and repair it.

BOND: However Twitter has all the time resisted. This is co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey doing a Q&A just a few years in the past.


JACK DORSEY: I personal Twitter. Can we get that edit button in 2020? The reply isn’t any.

BOND: He stated modifying could possibly be abused. However now issues are altering. Dorsey is now not CEO. Elon Musk is Twitter’s largest investor and a really outspoken critic. He is polled his 81 million followers about whether or not there ought to be an edit button. And Twitter says it is listening, however the capacity to alter tweets might change the best way individuals use Twitter. Engineer Leslie Miley has labored at Twitter, Apple, Google and Slack.

LESLIE MILEY: You understand, Twitter has put itself on the market as a supply of knowledge, as a supply of dependable data.

BOND: For energy customers – journalists, politicians, celebrities – Twitter capabilities as a real-time newswire the place tweets are a part of the general public document. Simply take a look at how former President Donald Trump used it to broadcast his ideas and even set coverage. Miley began a product workforce at Twitter to fight abuse and harassment. He says there is a danger an edit button could possibly be weaponized to deceive or manipulate.

MILEY: From gaslighting individuals, you already know, to say, properly, that is what you stated, after which they modify the tweets – they’re like, this isn’t what I stated – all the best way to somebody posting one thing on the market that’s categorically false however begins a taking pictures battle someplace after which eradicating that and say, yeah, that by no means occurred.

BOND: Skeptics additionally fear modifying might exacerbate Twitter’s present security issues if even a small variety of unhealthy actors misuse the function. Tracy Chou’s expertise of on-line abuse led her to discovered Block Occasion, an organization that routinely mutes harassers on social media. And she or he says an edit button is a nasty concept. Individuals who submit threats might change their tweets to attempt to cover what they’ve completed.

TRACY CHOU: It makes it much more tough for the victims to, like, gather that proof, doubtlessly, like, flag it to the platforms or legislation enforcement to take motion.

BOND: And she or he says it might make the platform extra complicated.

CHOU: There may be this magnificence within the simplicity of Twitter and the best way that it really works now, the place you simply type of know that issues will not change. So issues are as they’re or they’re deleted, and that is it.

BOND: Each Chou and Miley acknowledge all of it comes all the way down to how Twitter designs its edit button. Fb lets individuals edit posts and exhibits customers what was modified and when. Twitter might restrict what number of adjustments are allowed or how a lot time individuals should edit tweets. Newton, the tech journalist, says most individuals simply need to right errors relatively than wreak havoc. For him, it is so simple as fixing a typo, like when he by chance described an iPad as a cellphone.

NEWTON: Most individuals do not care. However, like, I’m a author, and I’m treasured about my language, and I want to change the phrase telephones to units. And nobody would endure. However my tweets would look a bit of bit higher. And would not that be good, you already know?

BOND: He says it is about designing software program in a means that acknowledges individuals make errors. Twitter says it plans to start out testing the edit button quickly for members of its $3 a month subscription service. Shannon Bond, NPR Information.

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