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Twitter launching edit button would be a ‘mistake’, former executive warns

Twitter has said it is working on introducing an edit function (PA)
Twitter has said it is working on introducing an edit function (PA)

Twitter users have been warned to be “careful what you wish for” in the wake of the platform confirming it is working on a much-requested edit tweet function.

The social media giant said the ability to edit tweets after they have been posted has been in development since last year and testing of the function will begin in the coming months.

Jay Sullivan, the site’s head of consumer product, said users “want to be able to fix (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes, typos and hot takes in the moment”, and the move is part of plans to give people “more choice and control over their Twitter experience”.

But Lewis Wiltshire, the former head of sport at Twitter, said introducing an edit button will be a “mistake” given the site’s influence on global affairs and the potential impact that amending posts could have.

“It’s one of those things that people call for when they want to sound like they understand tech products but don’t really,” he posted on the platform in response to the news.

“An edit button would be welcomed by a small percentage of hardcore users, weaponised by a larger and more dangerous group of bad people, and largely ignored by the majority of people in between.

“If you do not think that, you haven’t been paying attention for the last 15 years.

“If they did it, within weeks there would be a scandal where a tweet was subtly but fundamentally altered after it received thousands of likes.

“On this platform, more than any other, that has the potential to change the course of global affairs. Now would not be the time.

“It would be a mistake. Be careful what you wish for.”

Twitter says it has considered how the edit button could be misused and Mr Sullivan said the app is working on potential ways to ensure the safety of the feature, including a time limit for editing and making records of edits transparent.

“Without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation,” he said.

“Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.

“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.”

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