Twitter and editing tweets

Jeremy Stanley
Dec 17, 2013 · 2 min read

Matthew Keys reports Twitter is planning an editing feature for tweets, citing three sources within the company.

Once a user publishes a tweet, an “edit” feature will be present for a limited amount of time (Twitter is still currently working out the length of time the feature would be available). The feature would allow a user to make “slight changes” to the contents of a tweet, such a removing a word, correcting a typo or adding one or two additional words.

TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino—with a very, very solid reputation when it comes to Twitter—replied to the report’s featuring on Techmeme with a one-word retort (and followed with this gif):

https://twitter.com/panzer/status/412732282097500160

Wired’s Mat Honan concurred:

https://twitter.com/mat/status/412740940365692929

While there are merits to editing tweets for the purpose of correcting inaccuracies, I question the practicality of such a capability.

For one, Twitter’s ephemerality will make the development of the feature have a limited or negligible return on investment. The constant stream of new tweets does a very good job of snuffing out the incorrect information.

Plus, if, as Keys describes, the editing feature is only available for a limited time after posting the tweet, how is that substantially different from deleting and reposting a tweet? And, Keys also notes that Twitter can do nothing about the manual retweet.

Even if Twitter were able to deploy an anti-deception algorithm to deter bait-and-switch tweets, the limitations of the feature really negate the usefulness of the feature.

Over the last few years, as breaking news events have spread wild inaccuracies, media watchers have called into question the lack of the edit feature on Twitter. They ask, “How did Twitter get [insert breaking news event] so wrong?”

What they should really be questioning is whom they follow as reliable news sources. Those are: trusted journalistic outfits and their reporters, eyewitnesses who are verifiably on the scene. Those are generally neither people tweeting scanner traffic or reposting unverified tweets.

An edit feature won’t fix whom you follow.

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    Jeremy Stanley

    Written by

    Jeremy Stanley is a writer and tech editor. Say hello: jeremy at jeremydstanley dot com

    140 Plus

    140 Plus

    Following Twitter’s rise.

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