Twitter CEO: We need an edit button

Written by Kamil Arli

Twitter Inc., in the midst of an identity crisis, has turned outward to its millions of users for ideas.

Over more than six hours Thursday, Chief Executive Jack Dorsey tweeted with users about what they hope to see from the social-media service, opening the discussion with, “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?”

Users came back with thousands of replies. Mr. Dorsey responded to some of the concerns expressed, shedding light on the company’s plans and underscoring his promise last week to play a more active role in engineering and design decisions at Twitter.

An edit button to allow users to fix spelling and grammar errors quickly

Among other things, Twitter is studying ways to improve search and organize a user’s timeline of tweets by topic, Mr. Dorsey suggested in tweets. The most-requested feature, he said, is an edit button to allow users to fix spelling and grammar errors quickly.

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The social-media company has had a tumultuous 2016, with the departure of several top executives, a scuttled potential acquisition and intensifying criticism over lax abuse policies. Twitter’s stock is down about 29% this year.

Twitter’s inability to make radical product changes—or even seemingly simple ones—has frustrated many users over the years and limited the service’s appeal. Earlier this year Mr. Dorsey ended some longstanding arcane practices, such as counting usernames sent in reply tweets and media attachments against the 140-character limit.

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Despite its challenges, Twitter has become more relevant than ever, largely due to President-elect Donald Trump’s frequent use of the platform to air his views on subjects from foreign policy to Vanity Fair magazine’s business prospects.

Mr. Dorsey didn’t reply to concerns about Mr. Trump’s presence on the platform. Users expressed worries that an edit tool would allow powerful people like Mr. Trump to alter the public record. Some users called for imposing a short time limit to edit simple mistakes.

Mr. Dorsey nodded to these worries, saying anything beyond a quick fix would “need to show revision history.” That is the approach of Facebook Inc., which allows users to edit posts but preserves all previous versions.

Users on Thursday also criticized Twitter’s handling of harassment, saying the policies are unevenly applied and many obviously abusive posts are kept online despite violating the service’s content rules.

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“It’s got to be better training for your abuse staff. You apply your rules about hate speech randomly and unevenly,” tweeted Brianna Wu, a game developer in Boston and outspoken victim of online harassment.

“Agreed we can be more consistent and transparent,” Mr. Dorsey replied. In another thread, he wrote, “We’re working to better explain and be transparent and real-time about our methods.”

Mr. Dorsey said he would summarize the suggestions Friday.

He said he plans similar Q&As in the future, like another he did about payments company Square Inc., which he also runs.


About the author


Kamil Arli

Editor of Digital Media Consultant

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