Twitter certainly got some attention this week after it became known that Elon Musk with a 9.2% stake now is the platform's largest shareholder. He also launched a Twitter Poll asking whether an edit button should be made available on Twitter just like on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The proponents of an edit button won out with an overwhelming 75% to 25% margin and Twitter quickly made it clear both that the idea wasn't new, far from it, but also that they are in the development of a edit button for subscribers of Twitter's Blue plan.
In the early days of Twitter, it made sense that Twitter didn’t allow for an edit button given that tweets for most were seen as rather ephemeral in nature as they were fleeting by as short snippets in their never-ending timelines. Technically, the tweets would still be up on the profiles of users if you sought them out but the thinking was that if they needed to edit short statements, they might as well delete it and post a new tweet.
Today, a stronger case can be made for an edit button. First, tweets can now be longer, 280 vs 140 characters previously, and many users also post longer stories by replying to their own tweets so users and get a series of statements from you in one fell swoop by browsing through a thread of tweets. Second, the algorithmic feed used today means that some tweets will surface at the top of your feed as you log in regardless of whether it was the most recent tweet or not.
The algorithmic rankings are at least partially based on the engagement that a tweet gets. Therefore, users who have gained a lot of attention, retweets, and interesting comments on a tweet are reluctant to delete the whole shebang for only a minor edit. The concern that likely has held Twitter back from the addition of an edit button is that some people may fundamentally change the nature of the message contained in a tweet and this is the aspect that Dalvin Brown of The Wall Street Journal highlighted with my quote:
As the article points out, that concern has at least partially been addressed by platforms such as Facebook by including a label on a tweet making it clear that it has been edited. Facebook has faced related challenges in the past such as when a Facebook Group gathered thousands of members say for a noble charitable cause as people could wake up the next day only to learn that they now were members of a controversial hate group after a group administrator changed the name of the group. Same thing with Facebook Events. Now, you are able to make tweaks to an event you create but primarily in the early stages before you get too much traction.
Regardless of your take on the edit button, all the attention on Twitter seems to have had an immediate positive impact not only on the stock price but also on the publics interest in actually using the platform more. I think I will give it another shot to be more active there. Perhaps I'll even try to get my Chapman University students excited about Twitter and see if magic happens, so see you there where I can be found at @NiklasMyhr!