OpinionSocial MediaSoftware

If Twitter is Not Careful, Editable Tweets Could Be Disastrous


We have seen the trend on Facebook. Someone, often pretending to be a prophet, quietly edits their old Facebook post, to make it look like they predicted a series of events that are currently happening. The best example of this craziness is of a post made by someone by the name Pablo Reyes back in 2016.

Pablo Rayes edited his original Facebook post, dated December 26, 2015, to make a “prediction” of a series of events, including the presidency of Hilary Clinton – which did not come to fruition. In his original post, Rayes was making fun of White people taking selfies during tornadoes…

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Pablo Reyes Original Post

He later edited the above post on June 12, 2016, with Facebook retaining the original post date thus throwing everyone off with the belief that he had made a prediction. The post gathered over 176,000 shares and 125,000 reactions within a few hours, with a good number of people getting excited by his supposed predictions which were actually events that were happening at that time.

Pablo Reyes Edited Post

The way Facebook handles editing posts is what enabled such a lie to go viral and with the news that Twitter is looking to enable the editing of tweets in the airwave, it would be prudent for the company to learn from Facebook’s mistakes.

Facebook’s approach is problematic and a huge factor in the spread of fake news on the platform

First, Zuckerberg’s platform does not display anywhere on the post whether there was an edit to it or not, unless someone goes into the post options and actually select to view the edit history, a majority of people will never know they were scammed.

Facebook’s approach is problematic and a huge factor in the spread of fake news on the platform. If Twitter is seriously considering having an edit function, then the company needs to prominently indicate that a tweet was edited and when it was edited as prominently as they indicate the number of retweets and likes.

Editable Tweets

Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, recently confirmed this news, saying that the platform is still figuring out how to implement the feature. According to Jack, Twitter is thinking of allowing users to edit tweets but keeping the original version visible, how visible this will be is the unanswered question. He even went ahead to suggest that the platform would introduce a 5 to 30-second delay between when a user hits the tweet button and when the tweet actually goes live and then use this as a window for allowing tweet editing.

“The reason we don’t have edit in the first place is we were built on SMS, we were built on text messaging. Once you send a text, you can’t take it back. So when you send a tweet it goes to the world instantaneously. You can’t take it back. You could build it as such so maybe we introduce a 5-second to 30-second delay in the sending. And within that window, you can edit. The issue with going longer than that is, it takes that real-time nature of the conversational flow out of it,” said Jack.

All this sounds like a plan. A good plan? Maybe not. Typos are not a pleasant experience and they may lead to a misunderstanding but those can be simply dealt with a followup tweet fixing the typo, something that we cannot say about edited tweets – of not well implemented.

Twitter has been at the forefront of the spread of fake news and occasional cyberbullying due to the platforms virality nature thanks to retweets and likes. You can imagine what a malicious person can do if they had the ability to edit a viral tweet to their will, the results would be disastrous.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that Twitter does away with the whole editable tweets idea, I just think that the platform should take baby steps on such a feature that has the potential to blow back on them worse than their decision to axe chronological timelines.

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