On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it is testing a new feature – “Fleets.” Fleets are posts that disappear after 24 hours, which is similar to how Instagram Stories work. Twitter is currently in the testing phase and has only rolled Fleets out in Brazil thus far.
Fleets are distinct from normal tweets in several ways. Users can’t retweet, reply, or like Fleets publicly. They can only respond or react directly over private messages. Fleets are also only accessible through user avatars and don’t appear in an individual’s Twitter timeline.
According to one product lead at Twitter, Fleets are the company’s response to user feedback. “People often tell us that they don’t feel comfortable Tweeting because Tweets can be seen and replied to by anybody,” says Kayvon Beykpour. “We’re hoping that Fleets can help people share the fleeting thoughts that they would have been unlikely to Tweet.”
The Rise of Fleeting Social Media
Disappearing content has grown increasingly popular over the past few years. Snapchat first pioneered ephemeral posting back in 2013. Users who didn’t want private posts to end up on other sites could limit viewing to under 10 seconds if desired. Since then, many others have followed suit, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Many people today like the idea of non-permanent content, as there have been numerous recent examples of individuals getting roasted in the public domain over old posts. Twitter, especially, has come back to haunt many as people often use it for rapid reactions and less-than-developed thoughts.
According to Statista, over 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. After a rollercoaster 2019, Snapchat still boasts a user base of 360 million. Twitter is hoping to jump in and grab momentum before it dries up.
How Twitter Will Regulate Fleets
If Fleets do stick around, the challenge for Twitter is how the platform will handle the spread of misinformation. Even though Fleets are temporary and less likely to go viral, they still represent a way for false content to disseminate quickly.
According to a Twitter spokesperson, Fleets are subject to the same rules as Tweets. Users will be able to report content that violates Twitter’s policies, and violators will be subject to repercussions. Twitter will also store Fleets for a limited time to address appeals. The company says that it will only keep the content temporarily, though it has yet to specify how long.
Reducing Social Media-Induced Anxiety
Twitter recently bought Chroma Labs, which was started by former Facebook employees who helped bring Instagram Stories to life. With the Chroma Labs team, Twitter has a good shot of implementing its new feature successfully.
Fleets may help the platform reduce the pressure that many feel to post engaging content. Other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, are experimenting with hidden likes to eliminate competition or prestige from the user experience. At a time when social anxiety is on the rise, cutting performance-based metrics might help some redevelop healthy relationships with social media.
Twitter has also innovated in other ways to enhance the quality and trustworthiness of its core app. As of last October, advertisers can no longer run political ads. Additionally, users will be able to limit the visibility of tweets after Twitter rolls out a series of updates later this year.