Should you be able to edit your posts, shares, status updates and comments on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+? Some sites such as Twitter don’t allow you to do that, while others such as Google+ and Tumblr let you edit them.┬áThe flexibility of edit is nice to have but there may also be reasons for not allowing it. Facebook didn’t allow post edits, but it introduced comment edits on posts. And in Sep. 2013 it added post/update edits.

Let’s take a closer look at this topic. In one extreme there is regular blog, which of course requires flexibility in editing. I go over tens of revisions on every post in any of the four blogs that I write.

In the other extreme we have Twitter, where a tweet originally mapped to a SMS text message (and thus the 140 character limit). Once you send out a SMS, it is gone. You cannot change it. So it may make sense not to allow edits on tweets, though unlike SMS, technically this would be possible in Twitter. As you can see below, the only operations on a tweet are Delete, Reply and Favorite.

If you have a typo or for whatever reason want to make a change in a tweet, you must delete it and tweet it again with your changes. Of course this will not preserve the original date/time stamp. So it changes your timeline. This also applies to replies to tweets which are in turn tweets themselves.

Facebook for the longest time like Twitter didn’t allows edits, though Facebook posts and statuses have had nothing to do with SMS. Once you posted a update, or commented on someone else’s post, you couldn’t edit it. You could only delete it. In the case of a status update or a share, you could also change its target audience; e.g. make it public or visible to friends only. You can see the allowed operations on a sample post of mine on Facebook below.

But in the case of a comment on another post, the only allowed operation was remove. Naturally the date and time of the original post is not preserved. Deleting the post only to re-post with edits is problematic if others have liked or commented on your post, deleting it will also remove the likes and comments. The modified post after removing the original post will not have any of the reactions to your post. This was a problem for Facebook. They have finally introduced full edit capability.

Google+ allows edits on both posts as well as comments on posts. You can see the allowed operations on a post of mine on Google+ below. You can easily edit the post and preserve all comments and +1’s on it. And again, if you comment on someone else’s post, you can also edit your comment. This provides more flexibility.

Similar to Google+, Tumblr also allows edits on the posts, and it makes sense because Tumblr to me is closer to a blogging platform than just a social networking site such as Facebook.

If you allow edits in posts or updates, then you also need to decide on how to handle notifications. Suppose I post something and someone comments on it. Per my notification settings I get an email with the comment. Now the question is should I be also be getting emails if she decides to change her comment. Should she be notified if I edit the post that she commented on? It would make sense to enable it and then allow one to customize one’s notifications.

NOTE: This post was updated in Sep. 2013 because Facebook added full edit capability to posts and updates.

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