Twitter may soon allow you to edit tweets: anonymous employees

Dec 16, 2013

Twitter is working on an edit feature. Meaning you could soon be able to edit your tweets -- with some caveats. You won't be able to write a tweet, publish it, wait a few hours, and then replace the content of the tweet with entirely different and unrelated content. Twitter is still working out the details of what you can and can't do in edit mode, but the feature is on the horizon.

Tweet editing is poised to roll out within the next few weeks or months, according to three anonymous Twitter employees cited by Matthew Keys. The company has been working internally on the project as a "top priority". If implemented, it will first be available to "a select few" verified media outlets, famous people and public officials for field testing.

The idea here is to preserve the fidelity of the content of each tweet but still allow enough granular flexibility to make minor corrections. We're talking a word here, a character there. The overall meaning wouldn't be allowed to change. A time frame would also be incorporated, cutting off the editing feature after some set amount of time. Keys' sources say the algorithm governing the limits of editing tweets will be "one of the most-advanced in the industry".

Seeing as such a fine line between faithfulness to content and editorial leeway is hard to find -- and highly subjective at best -- the algorithm will have to be pretty darn advanced indeed. No word yet on how it will handle link editing.

So why has Twitter waited so long to start thinking seriously about editing? Well it's certainly not because of user demand at the grassroots (whether such demand is actually there or not.) It's because of Twitter's recent IPO, Keys suggests. Stockholders need assurances that the company is working to minimize the impact of erroneously reported news stories that go viral -- as in the case of the NPR tweet that reported US Representative Gabrielle Gifford as having died from her gunshot wound in 2011 when in fact she hadn't died. That tweet went viral and was picked up by other news organizations. The stockholders want to know that Twitter is working to minimize such debacles and never be seen as a peddler of misinformation, lest the company's value decline.

Twitter's advertisers, too, want to be able to edit their promoted tweets, naturally. If an advertiser gets a price wrong, for example, an edit feature would let it fix the tweet before it gets retweeted a hundred times. Note also that if a tweet is edited after having been retweeted via the native "retweet" button, the changes would be reflected in the retweets.

SOURCE: Matthew Keys' The Desk

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