How an edit button would kill Twitter, maybe

I hope twitter never adds an edit button. The ramifications of it would probably kill Twitter.

Here’s a scenario explaining why:

Image from Pixabay.

Let’s start with you, a relatively unknown John/Jane Doe, that’s you.

You used to volunteer on PoliBob’s election campaign for city councillor. You are mildly acquainted and follow each other on Twitter.

Years later, PoliBob is running for congress.

About 2 years ago, you wrote tweet: “BLM is Justice! Isn’t it obvious?” And PoliBob not only liked it, he replied “100% Agree” That was 2 years ago, you’ve both long forgotten about that interchange.

Because PoliBob is running for higher office, he’s got 2 factor authentication and aides regularly check that his account hasn’t been hacked.

You, not so much…

A hacker hacks into your account. The only tweet they edit is the 2-year-old one, changing it to “BLM is a scam! Isn’t it obvious?” Then they screenshot your tweet and PoliBob agreeing with it. A quick leak to the media, and PoliBob has lost his voting base.

There is no evidence that PoliBob was hacked and very little evidence that you were. Oops, I guess PoliBob is screwed.

It’s best then to simply not use Twitter if it has an edit button.

So, how could Twitter counteract this scenario?


A) every edited tweet would have to have the ability to show you the unedited version, which is a lot more server space/cost. And if that was limited to 2 or 3 previous edits only saved, then hackers would just edit repeatedly until the original is lost.


B) every time someone edits a tweet, every respondent would need the opportunity to delete their response. How cumbersome would those notifications get? Would you catch every malicious change among the myriad typos fixed? If you missed even one would the media forgive you?

OR …

C) There’s time limit on editing, perhaps five minutes, and in that time, no one can like, retweet, or reply to your tweet. If we must implement an edit button, this is the safest answer, but it also takes the immediacy away from Twitter. You see a Tweet and you can’t interact with it for five minutes? You’ll probably have left twitter in that time. Then again, a five-minute forced timeout might actually cool down Twitter conversations*

*Donald Trump exempted of course.