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TO TWEET IS HUMAN

Twitter is putting its most important fix behind a paywall

The twitter logo in a woman's eye
REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Illustration/File Photo
If you're thinking about tweeting, please don't.
  • Scott Nover
By Scott Nover

Emerging tech reporter

Published

For a few bucks a month, you can pay for a more perfect Twitter.

Twitter Blue, the company’s new premium subscription product, does not change the free experience on Twitter but rather places new features behind a velvet rope for its new VIPs. The service, which has been available in Australia and Canada since June, was released in the US and New Zealand on Tues. (Nov. 9).

Most of the new features are aesthetic options for the site: marginal improvements with a little bit of utility and customization that power users will appreciate.

But one new feature has no business being locked away from the masses. The Undo Tweet button, a post-delaying feature for a quick recant of an impulsive tweet, should be standard for the trigger-happy Twitterati. For everyone’s sake.

What do you get with Twitter Blue?

Twitter Blue offers cosmetic fixes allowing users to customize the app icon color (mine is now black), the “theme” colors on the app, and the navigation bar (e.g. the explore, notifications, and bookmarks tabs).

Twitter

It also incorporates two facets of Scroll, the news subscription service that Twitter bought in May. Subscribers on iOS and desktop get ad-free versions of certain news websites as part of a revenue-sharing agreement with those publishers, though a Twitter Blue subscription does not bypass a news site’s own paywall. (Quartz is not currently a Twitter Blue partner.) Twitter Blue also has a new Top Articles section reminiscent of Nuzzle, Scroll’s news aggregator, which shows news articles that your network is tweeting most about on the platform. Additionally, Twitter Blue subscribers get a “reader” for Twitter threads—so they look more like full articles—and folders for bookmarks.

Overall, these features improve the look and functionality of Twitter ever so slightly, and double down on the site’s identity as a destination for news lovers.

But the most powerful new feature is the one that may prevent you—or anyone with thumbs faster than their impulse control—from tweeting your worst take.

The Undo Tweet button finally arrives

To err is human—to undo a tweet is divine. As part of the Twitter Blue subscription, Twitter took a page from the email provider handbook, allowing users to set a specific amount of time by which the tweet they just sent will float in the ether, waiting to post.

Yes, a free user can simply delete a post if they immediately regret it. (I’ve done it many times myself.) But the Undo Tweet button gives the a 5-, 10-, 20-, 30-, or 60-second grace period whereby the user can admit, “You know, this tweet is actually a bad idea.” I set mine to 30 seconds and have already undone a tweet before it entered the world.

Undo Tweet is a call for grace, for restraint, for users to think before they tweet. Imagine a Twitter where people took 30 seconds to think about whether they really wanted to dunk on that celebrity, post that edgy meme, mansplain that concept, announce how offended they are, or write something that they might not want an employer to see in a few years?

Every user should be able to have that gut check—not just those who pay for it. Anything as potentially dangerous (or dumb) as a tweet should have a waiting period.

There will never be a perfect Twitter, but this would be a start.

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