Twitter’s edit button has been a joke for longer than I can remember, but it’s finally officially becoming a reality — and Jane Manchun Wong, who makes it her mission to find hidden functions in corporate code, just gave us our first real glimpse of what it might look like.
As you’d expect, the editing part is pretty straightforward: you press a button called “Edit Tweet” in the drop-down menu and then you can edit a tweet. Currently, it seems that you get 30 minutes after you publish a tweet to press that button; it will open a window with your entire original content in front of you, and you can publish whatever you want – delete the whole thing and start over if you want. It’s not just for typos.
the current unreleased version of Edit Tweet reuploads media (images, videos, GIFs, etc.) instead of reusing them. inefficient use of media bandwidth and processing power can also be lossy. plus it turns my video into an image (misuse of media type) pic.twitter.com/HjoIA0CZhO
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 2, 2022
The bigger question, of course, is what happens next – how can readers tell if you’ve tampered with your tweets and what you tampered with? That’s pretty simple too: there’s a little “Edit” button that appears next to the timestamp, and you can click it to go to an Edit History page that should theoretically show all previous versions of that tweet.
(Ignore the “edit: soup” section in the tweet above, Wong added that for dramatic effect.)
Importantly, as Wong mentioned a few weeks ago, Twitter seems to make every single tweet immutable – each version has its own ID, none of them are deleted, and it’s not clear whether Twitter’s backend automatically updates the latest version about it. web spreads. For example, if you read a roadside story with an old embedded that was rewritten, are you seeing the new tweet or the old one now? Not clear!
But even if you look at the old, unedited version of the tweet, Twitter will let you know about it. See the “There is a new version of this Tweet” below? Clicking that should take you straight to the latest version.
Sum it up, and Wong tells me she thinks it will probably work like this:
Trump originally tweets “covefe”, the tweets get ID #1, people embed the ID #1
then Trump makes a new edit “coffee”, the new edit (technically a new tweet) gets ID #2, while the original tweet (#1) becomes the first version of the Tweet
and then in the embedded tweet that still references #1, it now shows the “there is a new version of this Tweet” indicator
Seems logical to me. And it sure sounds a lot like the solution that roadside editor Casey Newton suggested in 2017:
I suggest an option in the reverse caret drop-down menu of a tweet that reads “edit tweet”. Tap it and you can correct and republish any mistake. The new version will appear on Twitter wherever the tweet exists, including retweets and quote tweets. A prominent new word appears next to the tweet’s timestamp: “edited.” Tap the word and Twitter will show the previous versions of the tweet below the latest.
Except here, it sounds like Edit History may be another page instead of rolling out neatly under it.
Please note that Wong has not yet been able to publish completed, edited tweets to the actual Twitter backend, so these findings are all for the time being. She figured it all out by running the app on the client side and showing her the UI in action.