While Elon Musk might have gained enough influence with Twitter to add an edit button, would that be a good thing? In a whirlwind of activity over the last few days, Elon Musk challenged Twitter’s stance on free speech, asked about a new platform, announced getting Covid-19 again, promoted SpaceX and Tesla, invested heavily in Twitter, then launched a poll about the edit button. That’s a startling sequence and ends with a jab at a sore spot with Twitter, the edit button.

Elon Musk is, of course, the driving force behind Tesla, Space X, The Boring Company, Neuralink and more leading tech companies. A significant amount of these ventures’ marketing and press coverage is generated by Musk via his Twitter account. The viral effect of having over 80 million followers to amplify any message gives Musk a powerful voice on a diverse range of topics. Now his social media strength has grown immensely with a seat on the board of Twitter after having purchased enough stock to become Twitter’s largest shareholder.

Related: How To Mark Tweets As Sensitive & Why You Should

The edit button is a popular request from users and was met with a ‘probably never’ response from previous Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The new Twitter CEO, Parag Agrawal, quoted Musk’s poll, noting that this was an important decision and requesting that users vote carefully. The timing suggested Musk might strongly influence Twitter’s immediate plans. More specifically, the weight of the biggest shareholder and future board member pointing to overwhelming results in a poll could be enough to make the edit button a reality. The Twitter poll thus far shows over 3.2-million votes, with 73 percent in favor of an edit button. In what is almost certainly an intentional typo, the ‘yes’ vote is mistyped as ‘yse,’ perhaps suggesting Musk would like the ability to correct errors like this. The edit button could pose a problem since Tweets are currently immutable and serve as a historical record. If that changes, it will be possible to rewrite history. On the other hand, there are ways to mitigate this problem.

A Good Twitter Edit Button?

Elon Musk with Twitter logo

Given that ‘probably never’ has become a real possibility, what would this mean for Twitter? The answer depends on how it is implemented. If a Tweet becomes editable a day or more after posting, this could cause problems for anyone that interacted with that Tweet. Retweets, comments, and likes would presumably be attached to the edited message, potentially altering the original meaning completely. There are a couple of straightforward solutions. One is to simply limit the time that the edit button is available to reduce the likelihood of abuse. The edit button would be great for correcting typos if allowed for perhaps one minute after tweeting.

Another solution is to have some small indicator to reveal that a Tweet has been edited, such as Facebook‘s solution, and make the original content available to view. If any dramatic changes are made, they can’t be done secretly. An edit button would not ruin Twitter if handled with some forethought, and this is being taken seriously by the company. However, this turns out. It could signal more significant changes and quicker updates coming to Twitter in the future since Elon Musk is a change-maker.