The Pacific Index

Future updates threaten timeline fluidity

Aidan Lannom

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On Nov. 7, 2017, Twitter gave a select amount of users the ability to write tweets with 280 characters, around double the original cap. Many who got the new cap took it as an opportunity to make character related jokes.

Most were people that would say they are excited about being able to write longer tweets but would then get cut off by the character limit like this tweet from @NoelClarke “#280characters YES! i’m glad this has finally happened. Sometimes you just needed to write a little bit more and you never ever really had the space to do so, so this update makes me feel like finally we’ll be able to express ourselves, and I personally I believe the 280 is enough”

However after this update many were upset that Twitter prioritized an extension of the character limit over one specific feature. An edit button. Those who were upset about this decided to use the new character limit to help express their frustration. Twitter user @nuffsaidNY repeated the phrase

“All we wanted was an edit button,” over and over until they reached the new character limit of 280. It received over 2,000 retweets. Tweets like this could be found all over Twitter after the extension of the character limit.

I understand the frustration, embarrassment and overall feeling over failure that comes with tweeting something with a spelling error or using the wrong word. However, the addition of edit button will cause more problems than it can solve.

As much as Twitter is known for the hilarious and ridiculous content posted daily, it has also become a huge source for breaking news, educating a younger generation through a style of content and gives us the opportunity to get direct info from popular figures such as politicians and celebrities.
One could even make the argument that we learn more about the POTUS through Twitter than his conventional interviews.

In today’s online world, the media constantly uses tweets as a source and for good reason. They are often raw short pieces of information that can give us direct insight into the topic at hand. With the addition of an edit button the reliability of all this information comes into question.

Imagine a twitter user does not like how people have interpreted their tweet or is embarrassed by what they said. Currently they might have to make a public statement or apology about what they said. However, with an edit button they could act as if they never sent the original tweet at all and change it to something that maintains a good public image.

The one way Twitter could make the edit button work is if they allowed you to see the previous version of it. That way it would always be on record what the person or company said. This would come at the cost of one of Twitter’s greatest attributes though. Fluidity.

Scrolling through a Twitter timeline is such a fluid and thoughtless process and that is what makes it so great. You read the information presented, react, then move on.

If they were to make the change and add an edit button along with being able to see the original tweet, what would that look like? Would we need to look for a statement saying that the tweet has been edited and to click this link to see the original? Or would it appear alongside the original?

Either way it is executed it will have a negative effect on the user experience and we shouldn’t risk the validity of Twitter or its incredible user experience for the sake of wanting to fix our spelling.

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Future updates threaten timeline fluidity