TORONTO — Canadians will be among the first to use an edit message button that Twitter will launch this month.
The feature, announced Wednesday, will be available to Canadian subscribers to Twitter Blue, the company’s paid subscription service, which launched only in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Internal Twitter teams have already begun testing, which will be rolled out to Twitter Blue subscribers towards the end of September.
This feature allows subscribers to “multiple edit” their tweets, adding or removing tags, and rearranging attached media within 30 minutes of posting. Modified messages marked with an icon and caption indicating they have been modified and users have access to a time-stamped modification history.
The company created the edit button — its “most requested feature yet” — to reduce the frustration of having to delete a tweet or leave a typo, since there’s currently no way to edit messages.
“We hope that with the availability of (this) feature, Twitter will be more accessible and less intimidating,” reads an official Twitter blog post about the change.
The tool’s launch comes as Canada seeks to regulate tech companies and ramps up pressure to tackle online harassment.
“But if we’re looking for a tool that will make Twitter more productive and more welcoming and a healthy place, then this isn’t it,” said Natasha Tusikov, assistant professor of social sciences at York University.
“If Twitter hopes that an editing tool will improve public discourse and make it a safer, more productive, and more engaging public space, it’s definitely not going to happen. It doesn’t address any of Twitter’s structural issues.”
Among the biggest issues are trolling, doxing and harassment, which plague the platform and often go unaddressed by Twitter and law enforcement, Ms Tusikov added.
Doxing is the posting of personal information, including home addresses, online for intimidation purposes.
Ms Tusikov worries that if it starts going viral, people with malicious intent will post a message and then turn it into something else derogatory or hateful.
A user who has already “liked” or shared the original post may not be aware of these changes unless they revisit the post, but they will be linked to it.
Richard Lachman, professor of digital media at the Metropolitan University in Toronto, emphasized that it is also up to people to notice what changes have been made to messages, reminding that humanity does not have a good record when it comes to the Attention to detail goes tweets.
“The internet isn’t used to reading things very carefully,” he said. He’s used to seeing what’s there, not the fine print that says it’s changed.”
The version of the edit button that Twitter Blue subscribers can try may not be the one that will eventually be made available to all users.
The test will initially be localized to a single country, but the feature will be refined and expanded as Twitter learns and observes how people use it. As the company put it on its blog, “You can never be too careful.”
Quarrel with Elon Musk
The launch of the edit post button comes as Twitter is embroiled 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 Twitter has more robo accounts than she disclosed, but Twitter is suing Mr Musk to force the sale.
Elon Musk asked social media users earlier this year if they would like access to an edit button, and 73.6% of respondents said they would welcome the change.
It’s unclear why Twitter chose this moment to pop its edit button lid and whether Mr. Musk had anything to do with the decision, but the failure of the deal “could leave (the company) looking to increase its revenue.” much more seriously,” said Lachmann.
He commended the company for taking a “slow and considered” approach to rollout, but wished the company would be more transparent in its explanations, as Jack Dorsey, who quit as Twitter’s CEO last year, has long opposed the edit feature.
“It’s a bit dishonest to be so firmly against something and then go back without (…) giving a reason for that change,” he said.
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