People are pointing to the tale of Julius Pringles as a parable for why an edit button on Twitter might not be the best idea.
Like everyone with a backlog of terrible tweets, Twitter’s new biggest shareholder Elon Musk is very excited about the prospect of an edit button. The social media company announced on April Fool’s Day that they were in fact looking into creating an edit button – before confirming a few days later that it was not a prank.
Several other social websites have a version of the edit button – including Facebook, Reddit, and Wikipedia – which work with varying degrees of success. However, some are worried about the possibility of the edit button on the website, with a classic and often-cited example of “what if someone tweets ‘retweet if you like puppies’ or any other tweet to gain retweets, before editing it to read ‘retweet if you loooooove Hitler’ or a similarly offensive message.
There’s also the nightmare for news sites that embed tweets, not knowing whether the content of those tweets will be changed. It’s possible that Twitter could go with a “show edit history” button, as is used on Facebook and Reddit, but not everyone is on board.
“Those who think an edit history for tweets will solve this, please consider the fact that Wikipedia has had an edit history from its initial moment of inception,” Twitter user anildash wrote on Twitter, “and is maintained by obsessives who watch every edit, and yet: Mr. Pringles is named Julius.”
It turns out that Pringles had originally only referred to their mascot as “Mr Pringles” from his very inception. Then, one day, a Wikipedia user with a reputation for good and helpful edits decided it would be funny to give Mr Pringles a first name.
“The secret is that when I asked my buddy what he thought the Pringles mascot was named, he was watching Julius Peppers play football on TV, offered a suggestion, and we thought that was a funny name.”
Nobody picked up on the hoax.
Before long, news companies were referring to the mascot as Julius Pringles, and it became a widely-accepted fact that the pringles mascot was named Julius Pringles, even making an appearance as a question on quiz show Jeopardy.
Eventually, that just became the name of the mascot. Mr Pringle was now Mr Julius Pringle, and even Kelloggs had to accept it, adopting it as the mustache man’s new monicker in their own press materials. Completing the loop, there is now a section on Wikipedia about how the Wikipedia hoax led to Julius Pringle’s new name.