Twitter edit button tease – from the official account, but just taunting us

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A Twitter edit button has got to be the most-requested feature of any online service ever, but the social network has always seemed determined not to give us one.

A new tweet from the official @Twitter account teased the possibility, but the company quickly made it clear it isn’t for real …

Twitter yesterday tweeted:

You can have an edit button when everyone wears a mask

That ‘everyone’ was the obvious get-out clause, and Twitter confirmed as much to CNN.

“As Twitter Comms Tweeted, everyone means everyone,” a spokesperson told CNN Business. “Nothing further to add beyond this!”

The message was clearly just intended to encourage people to wear masks.

Bizarrely, some seem to consider wearing a mask to be a political issue, and are objecting to Twitter’s intervention, claiming that masks are ineffective or that they don’t need to wear one because they are healthy.

The medical facts are clear. First, asymptomatic infection with the coronavirus is very common, so you can easily be infectious without knowing it. Second, there is now a medical consensus that wearing a non-medical cloth face covering significantly reduces the risk of passing on the infection to someone else.

Less clear is why a Twitter edit button is still not yet a thing. There are of course issues with an edit function: someone could completely change a tweet after it has been liked or retweeted countless times, for example. But there are also simple solutions. What most people want is the ability to correct a typo spotted as soon as they tweet. It would be trivial to allow a short window for corrections, during which retweets are not allowed, or to include an edit history.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has occasionally made positive-sounding statements about supporting an edit function. Back in 2016, he went as far as to say that the feature was ‘definitely needed,’ but nothing happened. Last year, he said Twitter was looking into ‘exactly that‘ when the typo argument was put to him. But earlier this year he seemed to backtrack on this, saying ‘we’ll probably never do it.’

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