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Twitter says it will add an edit button … if everyone wears a face mask

“Give us an edit button!” has been the cry of the Twitter masses pretty much ever since the microblogging service launched 14 years ago. But, despite the company occasionally claiming that it’s considering the sought-after feature, it still hasn’t landed.

This week the company has once again teased the prospect of an edit button that would allow its community to tweak their posts and correct any typos after publishing them. In a tweet on Thursday, July 2, Twitter said you can have an edit button … so long as everyone wears a face mask to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Twitter @Twitter You can have an edit button when everyone wears a mask

“You can have an edit button when everyone wears a mask,” the company said in its tweet, later clarifying it with a follow-up message saying, “Everyone means EVERYONE.” So, don’t expect an edit button anytime soon.

Twitter Comms @TwitterComms everyone means EVERYONE

Twitter @Twitter You can have an edit button when everyone wears a mask

Twitter’s view that face masks can help fight the pandemic is in line with current advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, it’s fair to say, knows a thing or two about the issue.

But Twitter’s decision to enter the contentious debate about the effectiveness of face coverings, and whether people should have to wear them, is likely to kick up a stink on its platform, a place already home to many text-based tiffs. Indeed, cynics might suggest Twitter’s little tease is nothing more than a sloppy attempt by the company to boost engagement on its site by raising the issue of the edit button alongside masks, with no intention of really acting on it. But if everyone starts wearing a face covering, well, you never know …

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said in years gone by that his team has been “thinking a lot” about creating an edit button, but added that it needs to be “done in the right way.” In an interview with Joe Rogan in 2019, Dorsey elaborated, explaining that if Twitter eventually decided to include an edit button, you probably wouldn’t be allowed to edit tweets from the distant past, or even ones you’d just posted.

Instead, he said the feature could offer “a 5-second to 30-second delay in the sending” after you hit the post button, similar to how some email clients offer an undo button for the first few seconds after you hit send. In other words, Dorsey’s idea of an edit button means the tweet wouldn’t go live during the time that you’re allowed to edit it.

That may be good enough for most folks, but first you’re going to have to persuade everyone to wear a mask. Good luck with that.

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