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Twitter Finally Adds Edit Button – But There’s a Catch
Comparing Twitter's implementation with LinkedIn and reddit and what Twitter's got right!
Hey folks! 👋🏽 Kavir here. Welcome back to another edition of The Discourse. This time we’re discussing Twitter’s edit button.
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Ah now that we finally have the infamous Twitter edit button, we can finally have world peace, or can we? In Twitter’s 16 years of existence, it’s probably been the most requested feature by a country mile. And it’s reached a point where it’s become a meme.
You know how Starbucks (intentionally or unintentionally) misspells your name on the cup — drawing attention to it on social media and hence brand exposure. In the same way, if anyone made a high-profile typo, they would add a reply saying — “where’s the edit button, Twitter?!”
Even if you're not on Twitter, you would hear people complain about the lack of an edit button. It became Twitter’s signature (non) feature.
Even though Jack Dorsey said that an edit button would probably never happen, it’s finally here!
But before we take a look at Twitter’s implementation, let’s look at how other platforms do it, what are the use cases for edit, and what’s one gripe with Twitter’s implementation. Let’s go!
How other platforms do edit
I’m only going to look at text-first social media platforms (sorry Instagram and TikTok). And not looking at Facebook, because who uses Facebook anymore 🤷🏽♂️ So that leaves LinkedIn and reddit.
On LinkedIn, the edit implementation is very basic. You can edit the posts with no time limit. Each edited post has an edited tag, but there’s no edit history or when the post was last edited. LinkedIn users don’t seem to be taking advantage of this leniency and dramatically altering their broetry posts causing any controversy, so all good here.
Reddit’s edit implementation is interesting and it’s become part of the reddit subculture. The edit button serves as a way to add to posts. For example, if someone has been gilded, or received a lot of upvotes — they usually append their post with an edit note saying “thanks for the gold!
There’s no edit history with reddit but there’s a last edited time. Usually, you can edit a comment within the first few seconds without the edited icon being shown. This is also because comment replies are not broadcast to any followers, unlike on Twitter.
However, you still can’t edit the title of a post, which acts similar to the first tweet in a thread on Twitter.
How Twitter’s edit button works
Here’s how it works simply: Once you tweet out something, you have 30 minutes to make edits with each edit stored as an edit history. Currently, this feature is available only to Twitter blue subscribers in specific geographies.
This example will give you a better indication.
Now you understand what Twitter’s implementation is like, let’s take a look at what people will be using Twitter’s edit button for.
Use cases for edits
People make the silliest of mistakes while posting tweets, I know I have. Till now there wasn’t a way to fix it.
However, you should also know that people tend to overlook most typos when reading. It’s how our brian processes words. You might not even have realized there was a typo in the previous sentence. (If you did, congratulations you eagle-eyed reader).
So is it really worth the effort to edit your tweet? For small typos would it be better if you deleted the tweet rather than edited it for the world to see your typo forever? I don’t know, reply or comment to let me know.
Wrong tags or links
The only time when it really makes sense is when you mistag someone or misspell someone’s handle. I’ve done this before on several important launch tweets which get traction. It’s painful 😢
This is the most appropriate use case for the edit button.
Here we’re not talking about spelling mistakes. But if there’s something misconstrued or some context was missing from the original tweet, it’s a good way to add it to the main tweet.
Currently, it’s added to the thread as a reply. However, one issue is that due to the character limit on the tweet, the user might not be able to add sufficient context to the first tweet itself. So edit may or may not solve this problem.
Completely changing the meaning
This was the biggest concern with the edit button. Bad actors would tweet something and then after getting engagement, they would completely change the meaning of the tweet. And especially because Twitter functions as a public record.
With the visible edit history, this is mitigated to some extent. But there is a way to trip people up.
Problems with Twitter’s implementation
The way it has been set up is that the likes, replies, and retweets counter still gets summed up and shown in the main tweet.
For example this one:
The original tweet had 10 likes, and the edited one had 226, the total count was shown as 236
That way someone could’ve written something problematic, and edited it to say something different. But the likes counter would still reflect on the new edited tweet. Doesn’t solve that problem entirely.
Given that this is a difficult problem to solve, I think Twitter’s version of the edit button is pretty spot on. The 30 minutes window and version history solve most of the use cases.
But I feel that we’ve lost something that was intrinsically Twitter.
I like opinionated products. Twitter had 140 characters for the longest time, while other products had a larger character count. Instagram started out with only square images. Not having an edit button was Twitter’s strong opinion (or laziness)
No one was not using Twitter because of a lack of an edit button. I would be fine without it.
After 16 years of existence, Twitter has given us the much-vaunted edit button and finally puts the memes to rest.
I know that the Twitter edit button is a polarizing topic. So let me know what you think about the Twitter edit button - reply to this email or comment below!
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Thanks to Dhrumi Savla and Steven Ovadia for providing feedback on early drafts of this piece.
📘 Read of the week: The GIF Is on Its Deathbed - Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic (7 min) I for one love using GIFs, especially in group chats. Maybe that makes me a boomer, idk. But I agree with the argument that some of the stale GIFs are extremely overused and have no novelty value.
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