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Opinion: Can Twitter’s Edit Button lead to misinformation?

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Twitter has long been a platform that allows users to convey their thoughts and ideas in real-time. One feature that had been consistently requested by users in the past was an edit button. Recently, Twitter announced the release of Twitter Blue – a premium subscription to Twitter – which gives subscribers an array of extra features in exchange for a monthly fee.

As you may have guessed, one of those features is the edit button, which now allows users to make changes to their tweets after they have been posted.

The addition of the edit button brings several implications for the platform and its users. But are any of them bad?

Let’s dive in!

The Edit Button

Hopefully we will indeed be okay. One of the most apparent implications is that now users can rectify mistakes in their tweets more easily. Typos, grammatical errors, and other mistakes are common on Twitter (we are human after all), and an edit button allows anyone to quickly correct such errors without having to delete the entire tweet and start over. That not only improves the quality of tweets but also reduces the number of duplicate or corrected tweets that users post.

Another implication of the edit button is that users can update their tweets with new information. This is especially useful for journalists, politicians, and other public figures who need to provide updates on breaking news or other significant events. With an edit button, they can add new information to their tweets rather than post multiple tweets or delete the original tweet and post a new one.

An edit button also allows users to change the tone or context of their tweets. For example, a user could change a tweet that was originally intended as a joke to a more serious tone or change a tweet that was originally posted in anger to a more neutral tone. That would give users more control over how their tweets are perceived and reduce the chance of misunderstandings.

But can the edit button pose a problem? One of potential misinformation?

The edit button could be used to alter tweets in a way that misleads or misinforms people. For example, a user could alter the context of a tweet or add deceitful information to a tweet after it has been published, which could spread misinformation. 

But we are talking about a reputable company, with one of the smartest and most innovative people alive at its helm, so this has been addressed. To mitigate the issue above, Twitter has implemented a system that tracks changes to tweets and allows users to publicly see the original version of a tweet. Additionally, to limit abuse, users are only able to edit their tweets a maximum of five times within a 30-minute window.

However, to the casual passer-by, or the less experienced user, the edits may not be so obvious. As a result, comments and responses may be out of context at first glance.

A question one may pose here is whether everyone is subject to the same rules. Or can things still be changed for a select few? If the entire social media platform does not run on blockchain tech – where everything is recorded on a public ledger – how can it be truly transparent? Maybe decentralised social media running on Web3/blockchain tech could trump the legacy Web2 platforms on this front.

Also, can the system be hacked? After all, code is subject to bugs deriving from human error. It may only be a matter of time before a malicious actor finds a way to bypass the limitations.

But, the biggest issue may not lie in the editing of tweets, but in their entire deletion. Many of the above issues remain when considering someone can simply delete their tweet. It is the reason many people screenshot tweets instead of bookmarking them – making sure they can reference them later and show them to the world. 

An alternative to screenshotting every tweet you want to keep track of is to use a service like Metaweave – which allows anyone to back up a tweet for permanent storage onto Arweave’s Permaweb. All you need to do is reply to a tweet on Twitter using one of the following hashtags:

  • #save
  • #archive
  • #permaweb

After doing so, the tweet will forever be publicly available on Metaweave.

Conclusion

With the ever-growing development of Web3, it is only a matter of time before a fully decentralised blockchain-utilising mainstream social media platform steps into the spotlight, eradicating the issues above altogether. Does such a platform already exist but simply lack adoption?

Bring it on Web3 devs!


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