Typo committers rejoice! The long-requested edit button is coming and has been secretly in the works at Twitter for awhile, just as it turns out Elon Musk’s ascension to the Twitter board of directors had been secretly in the works too.
When the bombshell tech news dropped Monday that Elon Musk had bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, Musk quickly pounced with a shitpost poll asking his 80 million followers whether they wanted an edit button. The options were “yse” and “on,” which by the low bar of Elon Musk humor, was actually a pretty decent joke.
Do you want an edit button?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
But Twitter has been rumored to be working on the edit button for quite some time, they already have the functionality built, and the company had product announcements ready to go that they've been clearly working on for awhile. And now it is officially announced, as the Chronicle reports that Twitter will roll out the long-requested edit button, adding that “it plans to test it in the coming months within its members-only Twitter Blue Labs before making it widely available.”
Rivals Facebook and Instagram have, of course, offered an editing capability for years.
You can see how it will work in the post above, it’s just another feature like the delete button. But there’s obviously been thought and planning on this that long predates Musk’s stock-purchase-and-possibly-takeover attempt.
3/ Without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation. Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.— Jay Sullivan (@jaysullivan) April 5, 2022
Twitter’s Head of Consumer Product Jay Sullivan describes the company’s internal debate on the matter in the above thread. “Edit has been the most requested Twitter feature for many years. People want to be able to fix (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes, typos and hot takes in the moment,” he explains. “Without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation. Protecting the integrity of that public conversation is our top priority when we approach this work.”
Those points are well-taken. But Facebook and Instagram posts have not been widely “misused to alter the record of the public conversation,” so it seems that concern may not be entirely founded.
Yet we are getting more detail about the Twitter palace intrigue that led to Musk’s splashy purchase of shares and instant ascension to the board of directors. The Verge reports that Musk had been negotiating behind the scenes for weeks on all of this. And it may be that Musk is not in the act of a hostile takeover, but instead brought in to stave off another different hostile takeover. An investment group called the Elliott Management Corp. had sought CEO Jack Dorsey’s ouster in 2020, and coincidentally or not, eventually got their wish.
“Elliott had taken a 4 percent stake in the company in 2020 and set out to replace Dorsey due to the company’s stagnant stock price and weak user growth,” The Verge explains. “All of which is to say that Twitter remains vulnerable to a challenge from Elliott or other activist investors down the road.”
This being Elon Musk, who’s been charged with securities fraud before, there are also some potentially shady doings now surfacing.
As Protocol reports, Musk has been secretly buying shares since March and not disclosing the purchases, disclosures which would have driven up the stock price. “By March 24, Musk had acquired a 7.5% stake in Twitter,” without disclosing these purchases in a 10-day window, per Protocol. “A quick calculation shows that investors who sold him shares between $38.20 and $40.30 between March 24 and April 1 missed out on $165 million, assuming shares would have jumped similarly in price had Musk made his filing on time.”
So when Musk claims his whole Twitter adventure is about preserving free speech, do wonder why he initiated the whole process quietly and in the dark.
Image: @purzlbaum via Unsplash