The internal Twitter teams have already started their tests, and they will be extended to Twitter Blue subscribers at the end of September. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
TORONTO – Canadians will be among the first to be able to use the edit message button that Twitter will launch this month.
The feature, announced Wednesday, will be available to Canadian subscribers of Twitter Blue, the company’s paid subscription service that only launched in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The internal Twitter teams have already started their tests, and they will be extended to Twitter Blue subscribers at the end of September.
This feature will allow subscribers to edit their “multiple” tweets, add or remove tags, and rearrange attached media, within 30 minutes of posting. Modified messages are marked with an icon and label indicating that they have been modified and users will be able to access the history of the timestamped modifications.
The company designed the edit button, “the most requested feature to date,” as a way to reduce the frustration of having to delete a tweet or letting a misspelling appear because there is currently no way to edit messages.
“Hopefully, with (this) feature available, Twitter will be more accessible and less intimidating,” says one of the official Twitter blog posts about the change.
The tool’s launch comes as Canada seeks to regulate tech companies and pressure mounts to tackle online harassment.
“But if we are looking for a tool that makes Twitter a more productive, welcoming, and healthy place, this is not the place,” said Natasha Tosikov, associate professor of social sciences at York University.
“If Twitter hopes that the mod tool will improve public discourse and make it a safer, more productive, and more attractive public arena, it certainly won’t. It doesn’t address any of Twitter’s structural issues.”
Natasha Tosikov added that among her biggest problems are phishing, scams and harassment that plague the platform and often go unaddressed by Twitter and law enforcement.
Doxing is the posting of personal information, including residential addresses, over the Internet for the purpose of intimidation.
Natasha Tosikov is concerned that people with malicious intent will spread a message and then edit it into something else offensive or hateful as it begins to spread.
A user who has already “liked” or forwarded the original post may not be aware of these changes unless they visit the post again, but will be linked to it.
Richard Lachman, a professor of digital media at Metropolitan University of Toronto, emphasized that it is also up to people to notice the changes made to messages and stated that humanity doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to paying attention to detail in tweets.
“The Internet is not used to reading things carefully,” he said. He’s used to seeing what’s in there, not the minute details that say it’s been changed.”
The version of the edit button that Twitter Blue subscribers will be able to test may not be the version that will eventually be rolled out to all users.
The test will initially be localized to one country, but the feature will be improved and expanded as Twitter learns and notices how people use it. As the company puts it on its blog, “You can never be too careful.”
Argument with Elon Musk
The release of the Edit Posts button comes as Twitter is locked in a legal battle with tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, who was set to buy the social media company for $44 billion. He has since backed out of the deal claiming that Twitter has more robo accounts than it disclosed, but Twitter is suing Elon Musk to force the sale to go ahead.
Elon Musk conducted a survey of social network users earlier this year to see if they would like access to the edit button, and 73.6% of respondents said they would welcome the change.
It’s unclear why Twitter chose this moment to lift the lid on the edit button and whether Elon Musk had anything to do with the decision, but the failure of the deal could push (the company) to get more serious about increasing its revenue,” Richard Lachman said.
He praised the company for taking a ‘slow and deliberate’ approach to the launch, but wished the company would be more transparent about its interpretations, with Jack Dorsey, who resigned as Twitter’s CEO last year, opposed to the longtime editorial job.
“It’s a bit dishonest to be so strongly against something and then come back without (…) giving a reason for the change to happen,” he said.
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