The now legendary Jane Manchun Wong has done it again.
For years - basically for all of Twitter's existence - Twitter users have called on the platform to add an 'Edit' option so that they can correct those annoying grammatical errors, which always seem to infiltrate your best tweets. Twitter has repeatedly said that it's not going to happen, but there have been signs of a potential compromise, like, say, a short window of time after pressing 'Tweet' to recall your missive.
Now, that could be what Twitter's developing - check out this example:
Twitter is working on “Undo Send” timer for tweets pic.twitter.com/nS0kuijPK0— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 5, 2021
As you can see here, the new option would enable you to recall your tweet within a 5-second window, which could be enough time to quickly check over your witty observation and catch any clumsy errors before it's unleashed.
The format here is likely not the final version - as several Twitter users have noted, the prompt obscures the tweet in question, which renders it somewhat ineffective. But once finalized, it could indeed be a good compromise. It won't please all of those dedicated, and passionate, tweet editing advocates. But it's something - and it could be a valuable option, in several ways.
The main usage here would be to catch errors, but an additional benefit could be that it enables users to also re-think their tweet before sending. Small elements of friction like this within the tweet process can often be enough to provide a moment of clarity, and may stop users from sending offensive or unintended comments as a result.
That's what Twitter's found with some of its other prompts, like its 'read before retweeting' pop-up, which Twitter says has lead to people opening articles 40% more often when displayed.
That success has lead to Twitter adding other nudges in the process, like alerts on tweets that have been flagged for misinformation. Those extra prompts are easy to go through, so they don't clog up the tweeting process, and negate engagement. But they do give users an extra moment of pause to consider their messaging.
But the main benefit will be grammatical mistakes. As noted, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey actually flagged this exact compromise back in 2019, in an interview with Joe Rogan.
As per Dorsey:
"The reason we don’t have edit in the first place is we were built on SMS, we were built on text messaging. Once you send a text, you can’t take it back. So when you send a tweet it goes to the world instantaneously. You can’t take it back. You could build it as such so maybe we introduce a 5-second to 30-second delay in the sending. And within that window, you can edit. The issue with going longer than that is it takes that real-time nature of the conversational flow out of it".
Any longer than this, and Dorsey has always opposed the idea, but a small window of time to revise has been on the cards even as far back as 2016.
It's just never progressed into fleshed out option - and last year, Dorsey once again responded to the edit tweets question by alluding to this editing window, before finally saying:
"But we'll probably never do it"
That seemed to be the nail in the coffin - but like The Undertaker, it appears to be rising from the grave once again.
It's not tweet editing, it's not going to solve all your editing desires and ensure that you don't end up with any errors in your tweets. But it could be a valuable addition, and given the advanced look of this prototype, it does seem to be on its way.
We'll keep you updated on any progress.