LOS ANGELES - Twitter users have long asked for the ability to edit their tweets, and now the company has offered to provide one — but there are strings attached.
In an interview with Wired in January, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said “the reason there's no edit button [and] there hasn't been an edit button traditionally is we started as an SMS text messaging service.”
"So as you all know, when you send a text, you can’t really take it back. We wanted to preserve that vibe and that feeling in the early days," explained Dorsey.
But on Thursday, the social media giant tweeted a promise to its users that the ability to edit their 280 characters on the platform would be granted when “everyone wears a mask,” amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The tweet prompted a flurry of responses, with some people urging fellow users wear a mask while some criticized the social media company for being “politically biased.”
“YOU HEARD THEM,” wrote popular YouTube tech reviewer Margues Brownlee in response.
Twitter has faced backlash from President Donald Trump and his supporters over its decision to attach warnings to some of the president’s tweets in recent months, which for years have been characterized by critics as abusive of the social media giant’s policies.
The company’s announcement comes as health officials, state and local lawmakers urge the public to wear facial coverings amid a rise in novel coronavirus cases following premature openings, a warning that has repeatedly been directly undercut by Trump, who has refused to wear a mask in public and discouraged his followers from donning facial coverings. Trump appeared to abruptly change his tune on Wednesday, saying he’s “all for masks. I think masks are good.”
Aside from advocating the use of facial coverings during the coronavirus pandemic, Dorsey had also announced in April that he would donate $1 billion to support COVID-19 relief efforts.
The company also announced in May that it would start alerting users when a tweet makes a disputed or misleading claim about the coronavirus.
The new rule was the latest in a wave of stricter policies that tech companies are rolling out to confront an outbreak of virus-related misinformation on their sites. Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have already put similar systems in place.
In recent days, many Republicans and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been more outspoken in advocating for Americans to wear face masks in public settings as infections have surged in huge swaths of the South and West.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, said last week that he would pursue a federal mask mandate, if elected. Trump suggested a federal mandate was unnecessary and continued to frame mask wearing as a matter of choice. Trump criticized Biden for wearing a mask while he is some distance away from his audience and for speaking through the covering at times.
“When there’s nobody around, I don’t see any reason to be wearing it,” Trump said in an interview Wednesday on “America This Week.”
About the virus, Trump continued to characterize it, contrary to evidence, as a nuisance that he hopes will just “go away.”
“I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope,” Trump said on FOX Business.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.