While Twitter hasn't officially released its much-anticipated edit tweet feature yet, one lingering question has been how they would look as embeds on other sites. Would they dynamically change when edited on Twitter, or would they remain as they were when created? Or would Twitter introduce something radical alongside instead of either of those options? Given how often tweets get embedded elsewhere, the answer to this question takes on nearly philosophical proportions.
Well, we now have an idea about how edited tweets might look like when a site embeds them, thanks to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong.
According to screenshots she posted this week, embedded tweets will have markers indicating if the author has edited the tweet after the site posted it, keeping the original text intact.
Wong presented a couple of scenarios about how embeds and the edit tweet function will work with each other. The first scenario shows a site embedding an already edited tweet with the timestamp of the last edit. The second scenario shows a tweet that's been edited after the site embedded it; the original version will show a "There's a new version of the tweet" label under the edited tweet with a link to redirect readers to the latest version -- on Twitter itself.
Embedded Tweets will show whether it’s been edited, or whether there’s a new version of the Tweet
When a site embeds a Tweet and it gets edited, the embed doesn’t just show the new version (replacing the old one). Instead, it shows an indicator there’s a new version pic.twitter.com/mAz5tOiyOl
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) August 1, 2022
Embeds are important because they give users a chance to interact with Twitter even if they are not registered on the site. Plus, a lot of news reports rely on tweets, and if the content represented in a tweet changes, it might affect the whole story. Twitter has struggled with the formatting of embedded tweets that were removed after they were posted on a site. Earlier this year, it started showing a blank tweet embed box instead of blockquote when an embedded tweet was removed. The company said this change was to respect the author's wish to remove, and it is working on showing a better message instead of a blank box for deleted tweets.
Hey Kevin! We're doing this to better respect when people have chosen to delete their Tweets. Very soon it'll have better messaging that explains why the content is no longer available :) my DMs are open if you'd like to chat more about this
— Eleanor Harding (@tweetanor) March 29, 2022
This would be helpful for news sites, giving them a trail, and a record, of what an account or a person originally said even if the tweet is edited later.
Regardless of how embedded tweets might look, in another edit tweet-related find, reverse engineer Nima Owji discovered that Twitter appears to be working on limited functionality for editing. Specifically, you might be able to only edit a tweet within 30 minutes of posting it.
#Twitter keeps working on the EDIT button! It seems tweets are going to be editable only for 30 minutes!
“Your Tweet was sent. You can edit it for the next 30 minutes.” pic.twitter.com/36Ui74ka1k
— Nima Owji (@nima_owji) August 3, 2022
Earlier this year, Twitter confirmed that it was working on an edit button to test it with its Twitter Blue premium service subscribers. But we haven't heard about an official release date yet. The company increased the price of its paid plans last week, and many users said the price is too high for what Twitter offers, but if the much-requested, much-contested edit button is rolled into the premium service, that could change their minds.
Twitter didn't comment on the story but pointed to a thread posted by the company's GM of Consumer and Revenue Product Jay Sullivan from April.
While we wait for Twitter to release the edit button feature, discoveries by code sleuths have given us some idea about how the feature might work. In April, reverse engineers like Owji and Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted about what an edit button might look like on a tweet.
— Nima Owji (@nima_owji) April 16, 2022
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) April 15, 2022
Wong also highlighted Twitter's approach at that time, noting that the company won't edit the original tweet's text; instead, it will create a new ID for the edited tweet and link it to the original tweet.
Looks like Twitter’s approach to Edit Tweet is immutable, as in, instead of mutating the Tweet text within the same Tweet (same ID), it re-creates a new Tweet with the amended content, along with the list of the old Tweets prior of that edit
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 16, 2022
In May, she made a note about the "There's a new version of this tweet" label that is likely to show up next to the edited tweet once the feature rolls out.
How an edited Tweet looks like on Twitter Web App: pic.twitter.com/boouYlvhA3
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 2, 2022
Critically, all these discoveries noted that Twitter is still working on the interface that will show users different versions of an edited tweet. That means we don't know what that might look like in the final version.
Twitter is set to go to trial against Elon Musk over its acquisition row with the mogul in October. A poll that Musk created, asking people's opinions about the edit button, was one of his more notable Twitter trolls (he misspelled both "yes" and "no", ho ho ho!) when he was still in the honeymoon period of his acquisition dalliance.