Twitter is testing a function that would allow users to edit tweets after they have been published, the company said on Wednesday, after its largest shareholder, Elon Musk, polled his followers about the contentious but long-requested feature.
- Many Twitter users have been requesting an edit button for years
- The company and its largest shareholder, Elon Musk, appeared to joke about the function earlier this week
- Twitter has since confirmed the function is coming, and it is working to make sure it isn’t misused
The social media giant took to (where else) Twitter to confirm it has been working on an edit button, after appearing to joke about the feature on April Fool’s Day.
The company tweeted on Friday, April 1 that it was “working on an edit button”.
The post was taken as a joke by many, as the possibility of such a button has been discussed for years.
Twitter said on Wednesday that it wasn’t joking, adding that it will begin testing an edit function with members of its Twitter Blue paid subscription service in the coming months.
Elon Musk’s ‘important’ poll
Twitter’s statement comes after billionaire Elon Musk became the company’s largest shareholder and newest board member, despite recently questioning the platform’s commitment to free speech.
Mr Musk tweeted an interactive poll on Tuesday, asking his 80 million followers the question, “Do you want an edit button?”
The poll also seemed like a joke, in Mr Musk’s typical style, as the two responses offered were “yse” and “on”, instead of yes and no.
Twitter chief executive officer Parag Agrawal told users: “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
On Wednesday, Twitter said it did not get the idea for an edit button from the poll, and had been working on implementing the function for months.
Following more than 4.4 million votes, the majority of respondents (74 per cent) to Mr Musk’s poll voted for “yse”.
Mr Musk, who has previously referred to himself as a “free speech absolutist”, said he was looking forward to working with the Twitter board “to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months”.
Concerns over edit function’s potential misuse
Twitter’s head of consumer product, Jay Sullivan, said the company was aware of an edit function “could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation”, and so was working on maximizing transparency.
“Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work,” he said.
“Therefore, it will take time and we will be actively seeking input and adversarial thinking in advance of launching Edit. We will approach this feature with care and thoughtfulness and we will share updates as we go.”
Mr Musk disclosed in a regulatory filing on Monday, April 4 that he had purchased a 9.2 per cent stake in Twitter, making him its largest shareholder.
Reuters reports that a source familiar with the situation said Mr Musk won’t have a say on Twitter’s moderation, including what speech gets banned or which accounts get restored after being deleted — a policy that applies to all board members.
Former CEO had concerns over edit function
Former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, had been reluctant to add an edit function to the platform in the past.
In 2018 Mr Dorsey suggested during an interview that an edit button could allow users to change the meaning of a tweet, which could lead to people having shared content they disagreed with or had been significantly altered without knowing them.
“There’s a bunch of things we could do to show a change log and show how a tweet has been changed, and we’re looking at all this stuff,” he said.
“We’ve been considering edit for quite some time but we have to do it in the right way, we can’t just rush it out.”
On Tuesday, Mr Dorsey tweeted that he was “really happy” that Mr Musk was joining the Twitter board.
“He cares deeply about our world and Twitter’s role in it,” he said.
Mr Dorsey did not comment on the addition of an edit function.