There are a few reasons you might want to delete a tweet: You meant to DM someone and accidentally tweeted instead, or you got something wrong, factually, so you backpedal and take back the tweet. Maybe it was embarrassing — something sent while drunk — and you want to erase the evidence.
Or perhaps your tweet simply included a typo, and that just will not do.
For this last reason, users have long been begging Twitter for an edit button. The incorrect “theirs/they’res” and misspelled names nag at us just enough that we delete or redo them entirely. A new tool called Post Ghost launched today, and it’s designed for our Twitter editing neuroses. Post Ghost shows you deleted tweets from high-profile journalists, celebrities, and athletes. It’s wonderful. What, for example, does this mean, Demi Lovato? Why would Allen Iverson delete a tweet promoting his appearances website after two hours? Actually, Nick Young deleting this makes sense, no questions asked.
But one deleted tweet from Cardi B asks what we’re all thinking:
Great question! The answer has always been “You can’t,” but after diving deeper into Post Ghost’s archives, another phrase started popping up instead of “deleted”: “edited.”
For a brief moment, a ray of hope: Perhaps Twitter was testing an edit button! But alas, no. According to Post Ghost, its software is simply reading when a nearly identical tweet follows one that is deleted. “If a user deletes something, then reposts something very linguistically similar or with very similar metadata within a short period of time, the system flags it as an ‘edit.’”
Sadly, my edit-button dreams had a lifespan of mere moments. But scrolling through Post Ghost, it’s clear how much we need this feature. These changes are achingly tedious.
Obviously there is controversy over the concept of editing tweets; what if Justine Sacco could have simply edited her tweet, or Donald Trump could go back and rephrase his entire timeline? Facebook broached this years ago when it added an edit option: While you can change the content of a post, everyone can still see what you changed. In fact, Post Ghost seems to have stumbled onto a pretty good format for viewing an edit. Seems easy enough, right? Innocuous typos won’t bother type A users anymore, and offensive tweets won’t go untracked.
Twitter isn’t traditionally kind to third-party services that use its content (R.I.P., Stolen), so who knows how long Post Ghost will be around? (Seriously, go browse the archives — gems.) But if it leaves behind any kind of legacy, hopefully it’s highlighting how very badly we need an edit button.