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Twitter’s upcoming edit feature may keep track of tweet history

Twitter’s upcoming edit feature may keep track of tweet history

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It may preserve the previous versions of a tweet

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Editing a tweet using Twitter’s upcoming edit button could leave a digital trace of your tweet’s history, according to reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong. In a tweet, Manchun Wong explains that the edit function appears to have an “immutable” quality, which means Twitter may create an entirely new tweet when one is edited, all while preserving the previous versions of that tweet.

“Looks like Twitter’s approach to Edit Tweet is immutable, as in, instead of mutating the Tweet text within the same Tweet (same ID), it re-creates a new Tweet with the amended content, along with the list of the old Tweets prior of that edit,” Manchun Wong says.

As Manchun Wong notes, it’s unclear how a tweet’s edit history will appear to users — if it will at all. But if Twitter does decide to make tweet history public, it could be a way to address concerns over potential abuse of the feature, as some critics believe it could be used to alter the public record and mislead users.

App researcher Alessandro Paluzzi also tweeted out what appear to be screenshots of the new feature, giving us a glimpse at how the edit button might actually look when it’s live on Twitter. In one screenshot, Paluzzi shows how the “Edit Tweet” option could appear in the three-dot menu on the right side of your tweets.

Selecting the button leads you to a screen that looks much like the regular tweet composer, only it’s pre-filled with your tweet's text and says “Update” in the bottom right corner (instead of “Tweet”). Paluzzi’s screenshots don't show an option to view a tweet’s edit history, however.

Twitter has yet to confirm the presence of a tweet history tracker. “Nothing else to share at the moment beyond what is in this Tweet from @TwitterComms and this Tweet from @JaySullivan, VP of Consumer Product,” Twitter spokesperson Anna Hubatsch said in an emailed statement to The Verge.

Twitter first announced that it’s working on the coveted edit button earlier this month, after seemingly joking about the feature on April Fools’ Day. But just before Twitter’s official confirmation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk polled his followers about an edit button after disclosing his purchase of a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, becoming Twitter’s largest individual shareholder. It’s been a whirlwind of events since then, with Musk joining and leaving Twitter’s board of directors and then offering to buy the entire company. Twitter shareholders are currently attempting to block Musk’s buyout with a poison pill measure.

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