Are You Happy Now, You Jackals?

Illustration for article titled Are You Happy Now, You Jackals?
Photo: Matt Rourke (AP)

You whined and you complained and you moaned. And no, you’re not getting your “Edit Tweet” button, but Twitter is testing something nearly as good. Will it make you happy?

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Users have long demanded, and Twitter has repeatedly refused to implement, a tool that would let them modify the contents of tweets already sent. Yet soon users might be able to stop embarrassing themselves in the next best (or perhaps an outright superior) way: Taking back their tweets before they actually go live.

Per 9to5Mac, reverse engineering expert and prolific data miner Jane Manchun Wong has discovered that Twitter is working on an “undo send” timer for tweets, which appears to give users about five seconds after tweeting to rethink whether that was actually a good idea. This isn’t the same thing as an edit button, but it does help solve the problem of hitting send and immediately realizing a message has a grammatical error, was in reply to the wrong user, was just ill-advised, or was outright ignorant.

It’s not clear when the undo tweet feature might roll out or if it’s just a test that may never reach users at all, but Twitter has been on an engineering spree as of late. Many of the features it’s announced or rolled out in recent months are clones of other popular sites and apps, including its own clones of audio chat hangout Clubhouse, disappearing Instagram Stories, monetizable Substack newsletters, and Patreon subscriptions.

The edit button has been one of Twitter’s most requested features, but CEO Jack Dorsey said last year it will almost certainly never be implemented because it’s not like you can take back a text message either. (The difference here is that the stakes of tweeting can be somewhat higher than texting, depending on how many people read it. And the Wayback Machine is unforgiving.) There are other obvious drawbacks to an edit feature, such as the certainty one of its biggest uses would be trolling other Twitter users by luring them into responding to or quote-tweeting posts that suddenly say something completely different.

“We started as an SMS, text message service. And as you all know, when you send a text, you can’t really take it back,” Dorsey said in a YouTube video when discussing the prospects of an edit button. “We wanted to preserve that vibe, that feeling, in the early days... We’ll probably never do it.”

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For now, you’ll just have to make do with pretending you never hit send at all, which is probably for the best.

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post

DISCUSSION

This featured will only be useful if I can unsend other people’s tweets, and if it lets me do it starting on March 21, 2006.