Twitter Working on “Edit” Feature for Tweets

Good scoop by Matthew Keys. It doesn’t appear to be a simple editing feature, either:

Twitter wants to enable users to immediately debunk incorrect information, especially erroneous tweets that go viral. However, Twitter wants users to be able to edit a tweet without changing the overall purpose — in other words, Twitter doesn’t want a user to post a news story, accumulate a large amount of re-tweets, and then change the tweet to display a promotion or advertisement.

To solve this problem, Twitter is looking at a few things, including limitations on how many characters or words a user would be allowed to insert or delete. According to sources, Twitter is also developing an “editorial algorithm” that, if it works correctly, would be able to “detect” whether or not a user is attempting to change the overall intention of the tweet instead of fixing a minor mistake or retracting an erroneous report.

It will be intriguing to see how well this works. There are dozens of instances that I can think of which, from a programming perspective, would appear as though I am changing the intention of a tweet. For example, suppose I tweeted an erroneous link and wanted to replace it — it would be hard to distinguish, algorithmically, the difference between that and replacing it with a promotional link.

Perhaps this won’t cover all the instances I’m thinking of, and will simply be a way to fix grammatical or spelling errors. But Twitter has always prided itself on ease-of-use and assuming best intentions. It doesn’t make you fill in a CAPTCHA when tweeting a link, for example. Perhaps it would be simplest to deploy a straight-up editing feature with no restrictions, and further restrict it if edits get out of control.

Update: Or maybe not a good scoop for Keys. Mat Honan’s sources say there’s no editing feature on the way.