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Twitter’s new story-like ‘fleets’ disappear after just 24 hours

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it works for one social media company, it might work for another. And another. 

On Wednesday, Twitter launched a new feature called “fleets” in South America, according to The Verge. 

Like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, fleets are located above the typical timeline, appear as a bubble with the user’s icon, and are only visible for a relatively short period of time (24 hours). 

This is the first new feature Twitter has added to its platform that isn’t its distinctive 280-character tweet. You can send a reaction in the form of an emoji or direct message a user based on their fleet, but fleets cannot be liked or retweeted. 

Fleets are a way to share fleeting thoughts. Unlike Tweets, Fleets disappear after 24 hours and don’t get Retweets, Likes, or public replies– people can only react to your Fleets with DMs. Instead of showing up in people’s timelines, Fleets are viewed by tapping on your avatar.

— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) March 4, 2020

The feature will first be rolled out in Brazil and comes after Twitter executives said they received messages from users seeking a way to express themselves on the platform without the lingering fear of permanence. In recent years, many Twitter users, celebrities and ordinary people alike, have received strong criticism for tweets they sent out years prior for expressing political opinions. 

“People often tell us that they don’t feel comfortable tweeting because tweets can be seen and replied to by anybody, [and they] feel permanent and performative,” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a tweet. “But sharing your thoughts publicly can be intimidating!”

Hand holding a Twitter phone
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Beykpour also said the fleet feature does indeed share similar qualities to Instagram Stories, but “there are also a few intentional differences to make the experience more focused on sharing and seeing people’s thoughts.”

Just like a regular tweet, fleets can be up to 280 character and, include pictures, videos, and GIFs. And like Instagram Stories and Snapchat, to create a fleet, just simply tap on the plus sign icon at the top of the screen where your profile photo is located. The fleets of users you follow, and who follow you back, appear first. 

Twitter joins the likes of fellow social media colleagues Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat in chasing what appears to be the most popular feature across the internet today: Impermanence. However, screengrabs still exist. 

According to The Verge’s Casey Newton, Twitter is currently testing the feature internally and may be rolling it out to other countries soon

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Meira Gebel
Meira Gebel is a freelance reporter based in Portland. She writes about tech, social media, and internet culture for Digital…
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