Twitter tweeted Tuesday that it is indeed working on a way for users to edit their 280-character messages, although it says the project has nothing to do with the fact that edit-function fan Elon Musk was just revealed as the company's largest shareholder and now sits on its board.
Twitter said it will test the feature in its paid service, Twitter Blue, in the coming months. It said the test would help it “learn what works, what doesn’t, and what’s possible.” So it may be a while before most Twitter users get to use it, if they ever do. Twitter spokesperson Catherine Hill declined to say whether an edit feature might be rolled out for all users.
Many Twitter users — among them, Kim Kardashian, Ice T, Katy Perry and McDonald’s corporate account — have long begged for an edit button. The company itself recently teased users with an April Fool’s Day tweet saying “we are working on an edit button.” The official Twitter account said Tuesday that the April 1 tweet wasn’t a joke and that it has been working on it since last year.
Twitter also said it didn’t get the idea from a Twitter poll launched by Tesla CEO Musk Monday evening. Musk, himself a Twitter power user, asked followers if they wanted an edit button. More than 4 million people had voted as of Tuesday evening.
Do you want an edit button?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
Musk also tweeted that he is looking forward to making “significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!”
Twitter’s vice president of consumer product, Jay Sullivan, tweeted Tuesday that an edit function has for years been Twitter's most requested new feature, noting that people want to fix mistakes, typos, and “hot takes.”
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had said that Twitter had considered an edit button, but in a January 2020 Q&A maintained that “we’ll probably never do it.” He noted that Twitter's current setup keeps the spirit of its text-message origins — texts can't be edited — and the confusion that could result from users making changes to a tweet that has already been heavily circulated by others. Dorsey stepped down as CEO in November 2021.
People who study Twitter also say adding an edit button would likely change the nature of Twitter, making it less valuable as a historical warehouse that stores official statements by politicians and other high-profile people.
Tweets are often embedded in news stories, which could cause problems if the users edit important or controversial tweets without leaving evidence of the original statement.
The company acknowledged those concerns Tuesday evening when Sullivan tweeted: “Without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation. Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.”
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.