Twitter is planning to incorporate a feature that will enable users to edit tweets to correct minor mistakes: The challenge with implementation, however, is preventing bait-and-switch tactics by deceptive users.

Twitter logo Twitter planning an edit feature for correcting tweets

Virality is part of social media, with content and updates gaining traction once the tipping point is reached. In some cases, however, social media has become prone to be the bearer of incorrect information. This has become problematic at one time or another, for both the source of the erroneous report, as well as the network that the wrong information was coursed through.

In 2011, for example, NPR erroneously tweeted that former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords succumbed to gunshot wounds (she survived the ordeal, and is very much alive today). During the Boston marathon bombings, misinformation about the perpetrators was also widespread, no thanks in part to social media.

Facebook earlier implemented an Edit feature, in which users can make revisions to their updates, photo captions and other content. According to sources from within Twitter, the microblogging service is also planning to implement an edit feature that lets users correct their tweets. According to the sources, the functionality will enable a user to revise his or her own tweet, and the change will also reflect when the content is retweeted using Twitter’s internal RT function.

Such a functionality, however, can be misused, and Twitter is well aware of this. For example, this could be prone to abuse by dishonest digital marketers, who could tweet a message and then change the content once it becomes viral — a classic bait-and-switch tactic. Given this concern, the sources say the editing capability will come with an “editorial algorithm” that will detect the extent that a user is editing the content. For instance, minor errors can be corrected, but if the change is already material, then it will not be allowed. Also, a user will only be entitled to edit the tweet once.

This is a big difference from Facebook, which allows an unlimited number of edits. On that particular platform, however, readers can see the history of changes, and all versions of the post.

According to sources from within Twitter, the algorithm is still being developed, and is likely to be ready in “weeks, or months at most.” Once this is ready, the social network is going to enable functionality to a test audience at first — likely verified news organizations, celebrities, public officials and other accounts with huge followings.

Twitter has not officially provided information, although sources from within the company say that a “correction” feature is a top priority, especially in the aftermath of its IPO in November.