Twitter is a free micro blogging Web 2.0 service that enables its members to read and send messages known as Tweets. Tweets are short text posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s followers. You can send “Tweets” via the Twitter website, your mobile phone, instant messaging and a couple of other third-party applications. Twitter is one of the most used and top social media channels available to anyone but most members misunderstand the real power of this excellent Web 2.0 tool. Mashable explains further.
Twitter is celebrated for rapidly distributing breaking news, sometimes reaching vast audiences before that information is reported by the press. But sometimes that information is inaccurate, misspelled or taken offensively — and it can be difficult to correct once it’s saturated the Twittersphere.
So how do you stop a bad tweet from spreading? Simply deleting it often looks suspicious. Deleting it and issuing a correction is better, but even then, tweets can perpetuate in quoted retweets and in screenshots (or, if you’re a member of congress, remain forever on public display.)
In an entry on his agency’s blog, interface designer Oliver Recihenstein proposes an alternative. Give users the ability to mark their tweets with an “Error” status that would cross out the text, he suggests. That would clearly indicate that a tweet was sent in error and has since been corrected by the original sender. Users could then look through the sender’s timeline for a followup tweet.
I sent Recihenstein’s post around to my colleagues and a few journalists at other organizations, all of whom responded positively to the idea. Both Mashable reporter Alex Fitzpatrick and Anthony de Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, suggested it would be even better if redacted tweets could be automatically linked to a correction, although such a mechanism might be too complex.
Fitzpatrick was also quick to remind me that Twitter isn’t designed expressly for journalists — it’s been adapted by them. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how great for journalists Twitter almost is. If it was rebuilt with them in mind, it could be amazing,” he observed.
Twitter’s design team has thus far reacted less enthusiastically. Doug Bowman told Recihenstein he was worried about “the additional complexity that forking delete like this would bring.” He added, “It’s hard for Twitter to justify spending resources on features that would be used by a small relative base.”
What do you think? Would you like to see this feature, or a version of it, appear on Twitter? Or do you think, like Bowman, it would make Twitter’s featureset too complex?