Elon Musk wasted no time in clarifying his Twitter feature priorities after becoming its largest shareholder yesterday. The CEO of Tesla has asked his 80 million followers to find out if they would like to be able to edit their tweets after posting them. Twitter’s new CEO, Parag Agrawal, went on to Musk’s poll tweeted by quote say that “the consequences of this election will be significant. Please vote carefully.” The phrasing mirrors a similar tweet from Musk on freedom of expression on March 25, a few days after acquiring almost 10% of the company.
The so-called “edit button” has been one of the most requested features of the social media platform. In an ideal world, this would simply allow users to clean up typos after their tweets were posted, but critics say the feature could be open to abuse, allowing users to significantly alter the meaning of tweets after they were shared on the platform. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company would “probably never” add an edit button in an interview in early 2020.
Responding to his poll, the Twitter user “everyday astronautsuggested that the edit button should only be available for a short time after the first tweet, and that edited tweets contain a link showing the edit made. In response, Musk said: “it seems reasonable.” Many other social media platforms already allow users to edit their posts, but as my colleague Casey Newton has argued, none have seen this feature widely abused. Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth said that Facebook had “resolvedthe edit button issue in response to Musk’s poll.
The poll comes days after the official Twitter account said “we are working on an edit buttonbut he made the statement on April Fool’s Day (the most untrustworthy day of the year). However this week Twitter Quote from Michael Sayman, Product Manager, tweeted this apparent gag, and called it the company’s “official statement” on the feature.
Musk is technically a passive shareholder of Twitter. He disclosed his investment in a Schedule 13G filing, which is normally reserved for holdings that have do not acquired “with the aim or effect of modifying or influencing the control of the issuer”, according to Bloomberg’s Matt Levin. But the the wall street journal reports that Musk’s filing did not include the standard certification that he had no intention of influencing the company, and that the Tesla CEO simply wrote “Not Applicable” instead.
Musk’s tweets don’t ask Twitter to add an edit button, but his poll (which so far is 73.7% in favor with over 2 million votes counted) sends a strong enough signal to Twitter to whether to add one. “If people vote overwhelmingly for something, it’s at least *one* data point!” Musk wrote in a follow-up tweetbefore calling the crypto bots the “most annoying problem“On the platform.
Whatever Musk’s intentions, the Twitter CEO is clearly paying attention.