Twitter is developing a way for its users to edit tweets after they have been published, but only small changes to correct errors will be possible.

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The proposed editing feature would let users correct errors for a short time after tweets are published. Reuters

The feature is intended for users to correct typing errors spotted after a tweet has been published, and cannot be used to make major changes to the context of the tweet; editing will only be possible for a short time after the tweet has been published.

Speaking to The Desk, three unnamed sources who claim to be Twitter employees say the editing feature has been a top priority for months and is intended to be used to stop accidentally incorrect tweets from going viral, such as those posted by celebrities or news agencies.

Once an edit has been made, it will be immediately visible on that user's Twitter feed; the edit will also appear on the feed of any who retweets it - however, changes will not appear in manually retweeted messages.

Editorial Algorithm

Although Twitter is happy for users to make changes, it does not want the entire message to be replaced with something else - like an advertisement, for example.

The sources claim Twitter is experimenting with limiting the number of characters or words which can be changed; they say the social network is also developing an "editorial algorithm" which will be able to detect if a user is attempting to change the overall context of the tweet, and not merely correcting a typing error.

Twitter's algorithm, which is claimed to be "one of the most advanced in the industry" will be finished in a matter of "weeks, or months at the most," the sources said.

Initially, the editing service will only be available to a small number of users, likely those with verified accounts such as celebrities and news outlets.

As Twitter's power as a news broadcaster grows, it is hoped that an editing feature will help to limit the spread of misinformation through mistakes made by news agency staff, or in the event of a hack, such as that of the Associated Press' account, which saw a fake tweet reporting explosions at the White House cause the Dow Jones to fall by 100 points.