Twitter's work on its forthcoming Edit button is continuing. While several people last month already spotted the in-development "Edit Tweet" menu option, what we didn't yet know was how edited tweets would appear to users viewing them on Twitter, or how the edited tweet's original text could be read. Now, we're able to see what Twitter is building to highlight that tweets have had edits made to them.
According to reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, the Edit Tweet button will allow users to create a new tweet with different content. But to make sure Twitter users know the tweet has been changed from the original, a label (alongside an icon of a small pen or pencil) will appear at the bottom of the tweet. The label's text will simply say "Edited." And if you click on the word "Edited," you'll be taken to the tweet's edit history.
Wong notes that currently users will have 30 minutes to make tweet edits. That's a bit longer than needed to quickly correct a spotted typo -- something Twitter's subscription service Twitter Blue already allows for. But it's long enough to clarify or reword a tweet that could be beginning to blow up and go viral for the wrong reasons.
How an old Tweet edit looks like on Twitter Web App: pic.twitter.com/CdPqhW99S8
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 2, 2022
Above: Edited Tweet examples. Wong notes she wrote "edit: soup*" on her tweet example of this to be funny, as that's how she indicates her edits on Reddit. That's not part of the new Twitter experience, however.
Wong had earlier discovered code references related to the work-in-progress Edit Tweet feature in the recent build of the Twitter web app had indicated the Edit button wasn’t actually correcting or changing the text in the original tweet — it was creating a new tweet with the updated content. She had said the new, edited tweet would include the list of old tweets prior to the edit, but we didn't yet know how Twitter would address this critical context in its user interface.
Her latest findings, which Wong says she found in development within Twitter's web app, give us a better idea.
Because the new, edited tweet and old tweet are actually different entities, it's possible that someone could still link directly to the out-of-date version. In that case, the user would see the old tweet with a label that states "There's a new version of this Tweet" directing them to the updated version with the new text.
The feature appears to be in the early stages of development, as Wong pointed out to TechCrunch that the "Edited" label itself looks small and inconsistent with the rest of Twitter's user interface. But as the feature is not yet live, that's something that will likely be corrected ahead of a more public launch.
Though a relatively minor update, this does help give Twitter users an idea as to how Twitter is thinking about the Edit Tweet feature from the perspective of how the addition would impact the user experience on Twitter, as well as the company's own backend systems.
As some people had previously noted, allowing people to actually edit the text in the original tweet would have meant both the old and new versions would point to the same tweet ID, which could complicate things from an engineering standpoint. It could have been a nightmare for caching systems based on the tweet ID, they said. Instead, Twitter is giving the edited tweet a new tweet ID, but linking to the older versions from the most recent one.
the current unreleased version of Edit Tweet reuploads media (images, videos, GIFs, etc) instead of reusing them. an inefficient use of the bandwidth and media processing power, might be lossy too. plus it turns my video into an image (mishandling media type) pic.twitter.com/HjoIA0CZhO
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 2, 2022
Wong additionally noted the Edit tweet feature will re-upload the media attached to the original tweet (e.g. images, videos, GIFs, etc.) instead of reusing them, which seemed inefficient. But this may not be how the feature works further down the road.
Reached for comment, Twitter confirmed Wong's latest finding is a part of the same in-development "Edit Tweet" feature spotted earlier, but declined to share more about its plans.
Last month, Twitter first announced the ground-shaking news that it was actually going to offer users a way to edit tweets — a longtime user request and one that incoming Twitter owner Elon Musk has also been pushing for. The company has not said when the feature would go live to the public, but said Twitter Blue subscribers could expect to be able to try out the feature "in the coming months."