Twitter’s edit button isn’t going to be what any of us really wanted

The Twitter logo spray painted onto ripped paper surrounded by white, blue and black noise
(Image credit: Twitter)

Being able to edit a tweet after it’s been posted is one of Twitter's most requested features. 

Currently, if you spot a spelling mistake or an incorrectly uploaded photo in your tweet after it goes live you have to pull the whole thing down and start over again – you can’t just go in and make the minor fix. 

For years instead of giving users the one feature they most desperately wanted, Twitter gave us updates like unwanted timeline changes and pointless in-app podcast services.

But finally, back in April 2022, Twitter revealed that it was working on an edit button, and fans were delighted.

However, since the announcement, it has become more and more clear why the feature was on the back burner for so long, and we're now starting to wonder if the whole thing should be scrapped.

Tweet editing needs an edit

Twitter is more than a social media platform at this point. It’s not just a place where people share funny quips or rant about their issues, it’s also a space for businesses, celebrities, and politicians to make statements, address recent controversies or engage with members of the public.

Because of this, tweets can be just as newsworthy as traditional conferences and press releases. So, one major reason that sparked pushback against the edit button is it could become a tool to rewrite history.

While you and I may just want to simply fix our spelling and grammar, it has the potential to be abused by people looking to completely change the meaning of a post after the fact. Making a permanent change could make it hard to accurately follow what has been said and also be able to hold people accountable for any content they share with their followers.

Thankfully, Twitter thought ahead and current designs for the edit function indicate that the app will keep a record of previous versions of the post. Most recently, it was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong that embedded tweets will default to the original post, with a reminder appearing on the bottom alerting readers that a new version of the post is available.

This is all excellent news for reporters and media outlets (us included) who may want to include tweets in their coverage without worrying about the facts seemingly being changed after the story goes live. However, for regular users, it doesn't solve the core issue that editing was meant to fix.

Given how easy it will be to see that a tweet has been changed and to find out what was previously posted, it’s less likely to help you avoid embarrassment but make it easier than ever to spot your mistakes. Even after editing is introduced to Twitter, your best solution to hide a mistake will still be to take down the post and try again.

It'll likely be a while longer before tweet editing is officially released so there's a chance that Twitter will find a better way to ensure it lives up to what fans want while also not helping to spread misinformation. But as it stands right now, Twitter's edit button is looking like it was an idea that was much better on paper than it is in practice.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.