Twitter underwhelms with "undo send" button

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Twitter Canada confirms it is working on an unsend button but didn't give details on when it will be released. Image credit: Associated Press

Twitter confirmed Friday it is working on an “undo send” button. Experts think it would be a good feature to quickly catch mistakes before putting tweets out to the public, but say it isn't the game-changer that an edit button would be.

Jane Manchun Wong, a social media and website feature researcher, tweeted on March 4 that the social media giant is working on the feature and added a video of what the undo feature would look like.

In an email, Twitter Canada said it is testing this feature but did not indicate when it might be released.

Wong says this is far from an edit button.

“This [user interface] implies that Twitter prefers sticking with not providing the full editing capability, but addressing the use cases of why users might want the editing capability,” she told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Wong added that the undo feature is a “good compromise to address the need of quickly fixing typos without introducing all sorts of complexities related to tweet editing.”

Ramona Pringle, a tech expert and associate professor at Ryerson University, says the feature is fundamentally different than an edit button.

“If someone said something they should be held accountable for that and that’s where there’s been a lot of controversy around the notion of an edit button,” she said in an interview. “But something like this is not about saying you didn’t say something... but it pushes you to take a few moments and think about what you’ve done.”

She said because so much of social media is tied to the speed of the timeline with a sense of urgency, it’s made people tweet without thinking about what they’re tweeting.

“[This feature] gives us a little bit more power over the timeline and the pace of the timeline,” she said, adding that it’s very similar to the unsend button that Google enabled for Gmail. However, Pringle said that this isn’t a breakthrough feature.

Richard Lachman, an expert on tech user experience and associate professor at Ryerson University, agrees with Pringle and added that this is one small feature in Twitter changing their business model.

“Twitter is figuring out how an advertising-based model is maybe pushing it in directions that are challenging truth, challenging the kind of conversations that have happened, and this is a way of trying to build some professionalization features into Twitter to really appeal to people who might be looking at social-based models as opposed to advertising,” he said.

“This particular button is not a major story. It’s not really in the set of features I would want to see if Twitter is to become a more mature conversational platform that’s not filled with anger, filled with vitriol.”