Twitter users have been asking for the option to edit tweets ever since the service launched in 2006, but the company has always prevaricated, saying it’s looking into the problem, or considering it deeply, or a hundred other ways of saying “please stop bothering us about this, please.”
Jack Dorsey himself has gone back and forth on the idea, saying in 2016 that “a form of edit is definitely needed” and spelling out last March how such an option might work. But in a Wired Q&A, he said the door’s shut on the notion, at least for now.
He referenced Twitter’s origins as an SMS-like service as the company’s reason for declining to include an edit option at the outset. “When you send a text, you can’t really take it back,” he pointed out. “We wanted to preserve that vibe, that feeling, in the early days.” That’s not entirely true, since you can of course delete tweets, but alas.
The spread of misinformation is a big enough problem already on platforms like Twitter, but an edit button could make the issue more complex. “You might send a tweet and the someone might retweet that, and then an hour later you completely change the content of that tweet,” Dorsey suggested. “The person that retweeted the original tweet is now retweeting and rebroadcasting something completely different.”
He also cited issues with having a short window to fix typos or broken links. Twitter has mulled a short timeframe of up to a minute where you could make tweaks. “But that also means that we have to delay sending that tweet out, because once it’s out, people see it,” Dorsey noted.
Dorsey just won’t fully commit to an answer, giving himself the option of changing his mind in future. At least, then, he understands the appeal of an edit button.