Even though Twitter has recently upped its maximum character count from 140 to 280, it is still a quick and lean social machine. Thanks to their short length, tweets can come and go at breakneck speed. The flip side of promoting a fast-flowing platform for streams of consciousness as well as factual news reporting is that people often get things wrong. You’ll commonly see tweets with spelling mistakes or bad grammar and you’ll even see tweets that just don’t make sense.
At the heart of all this apparent madness is the lack of an “Edit Tweet” button. People have been calling for such a button since what seems like the beginning of time, but Twitter has always remained steadfast in its refusal to add one. Recently, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, said that the reason there was no edit button is because Twitter didn’t want to facilitate fake news by giving people the ability to change the tweets that first broke the story. He did, however, recognize that the issue needed addressing and it looks like he might finally be coming good on that promise. Sort of.
Twitter is working on a way to “clarify” past tweets and give them new meaning
Speaking at a Goldman Sachs event in San Francisco on February 14, Dorsey again spoke about the ability to change old tweets, but what he said is not quite what everybody has been waiting for. When addressing the recent cultural scandals that have arisen from past tweets, like James Gunn being dropped by Disney for things he tweeted years ago, Dorsey said that Twitter was working on a way to allow people to clarify something they’ve said in the past. In this way, they could add more words to their old tweets to show that they’ve grown beyond the original comment.
This sounds suspiciously like a quote retweet, but Dorsey did go further to show how the feature would work differently. The Twitter CEO said, “How do we enable people to quickly go back… and to add some context and some color on what they might have tweeted or what they might have meant. By doing so you might imagine that the original tweet then would not have the sort of engagement around it. Like you wouldn’t be able to retweet the original tweet, for instance. You would just show the clarification, you would be able to retweet the clarification, so it always carries around with it that context.” He also went on to say that Twitter isn’t working on the feature specifically, but that those are the sorts of questions the social network is asking itself.
If we were to see a feature like the one Dorsey has described, it would give users the chance to take old tweets and turn them into something else, while the original tweet remained intact. The original text would still be visible but there’d be other text explaining what is going on in it. This would work just as well for clarifying spelling mistakes and bad grammar as it would for clarifying jokes you made back when you were in college.
As we’ve pointed out, there is still no news on whether this feature will make its way onto Twitter, but as soon as we hear more news, we’ll let you know.