Rather than spend Christmas evening eating and drinking with family and friends, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky took to Twitter to solicit suggestions from the general public about what the company should launch next year, and then spent hours engaging those people in conversation. A few days later, on Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey followed suit, and among the suggestions received after his initial call for ideas, a predictably strong contender for a new feature in 2017 appears to be editing capability a big issue for Twitter users who are quick to post without proofreading, and something which will be sure to spur controversy given that the current no-edit format is seen as more honest and transparent.
As CNet notes, a changelog would probably have to be necessary for any edits made after a certain window of time, or Twitter could simply only allow edits for a few minutes after posting. Facebook and Reddit both allow edits to posts, but Facebook allows others to click the "Edited" link to see what changed, and Reddit marks edited posts with an asterisk.
In subsequent tweets, Dorsey suggests that "anything beyond" quick edit capabilities would require such logs, because "tweets are public record." He also noted that editing was by far the most requested new capability by users.
Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what's the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017— jack (@jack) December 29, 2016
Thanks for all the feedback yesterday! 4 clear themes you want us to work on: abuse, edit, topics & interests, and conversations. https://t.co/hMJMZ3P0Rz— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Abuse: obviously a ton of work ahead but biggest ask was for greater transparency around our actions (or inaction) and faster shipping— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Edit: clearest ask was to provide a quick way to fix errors. Anything beyond requires showing edit history given tweets are public record— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Topics: lots here but simply being able to follow topics was strongest request. Being more topic/interest-focused (v account) opens up a lot— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Conversations: this is a big part of the magic of Twitter and currently really difficult to follow & manage. We'll work to make this easier— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
We'll consider everything we heard from you. Not going to ship all of it, but will be more transparent about why and what we learned— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Critics, though, likening the live nature of Twitter to television, suggest that this would be a wrong move although there isn't a great deal of difference between a limited edit functionality and what exists now, wherein users can delete and repost the same tweet with edits, if they notice them quickly, before the tweet gains any traction. The bigger issue is if a tweet were edited long after it was posted and retweeted and embedded elsewhere.
And it does call into question how we hold people accountable for their tweets even though hardly any of President-elect Trump's fans seem to care when he contradicts himself on the platform almost daily. As VentureBeat says, "With our grammatically challenged incoming tweeter-in-chief, one could argue that such a feature has become a matter of national security." Sadly that may not be hyperbole, since Trump has been making policy decisions on Twitter even before taking office, some of which he may want to take back at some point. We hope.
Recode thinks the short-term editing window is a "good compromise," and they point out that they suggested a five-minute edit window back in October, and they note that queen of all social media Kim Kardashian has even asked for this herself. "Please don’t make Kim send another email," they wrote.
Dorsey only says "we're thinking a lot about it" with regard to the editing idea, and there's no timeline for any of the above suggested improvements.