Twitter Adds "Fleets" Story Feature

iPhone with Twitter social media app on screen.

In mid-November Twitter announced the global launch of "Fleets", after testing it in various markets globally. Now all mobile Twitter users can access this new disappearing message feature, found at the top of the timeline with a "Stories-like" appearance.

Through tests in Italy, Brazil, South Korea, and India, Twitter concluded that Fleets would help reduce the pressure that comes with regular tweeting. Fleets allow users to post casual thoughts without feeling the pressure of posting a profound tweet to rack up likes and retweets. Based on the tests, Twitter's design director noted that users felt more comfortable to join conversations with Fleets.

Those who are new to Twitter find Fleets to be an easier way of sharing what's on their mind. As Fleets disappear after 24 hours, Twitter users are more comfortable sharing personal information, casual thoughts, feelings, and opinions. However, Fleets is currently only available to android and iOS users.

About Twitter Fleets

At the basic level, Fleets is a clone of Stories, borrowing its idea from what Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat already implemented. Some of the key features of Fleets include;

  • Fleets or transitional thoughts last only 24 hours.
  • Fleet authors can see everyone who viewed their Fleets.
  • Fleets cannot be retweeted or liked and are not open to public replies.
  • Fleets can include texts, photos, videos, or GIFs.
  • Twitter users can reply to fleets by tapping the "send a message" or emoji icon at the bottom of the Fleet.
  • Anyone can react to fleets of Twitter users with open direct messages. However, if your direct messages are closed, only those you follow can react to your Fleets.
  • Twitter users can access your Fleets in two ways. First, if they follow you, your Fleets automatically appear in a new bar on top of the homepage timeline. Secondly, anyone who can access your tweets can view your Fleets by clicking on your profile photo.
  • Fleets are also protected for twitter users with protected tweets.
  • To remove a Fleet, simply click the "Delete Fleet" icon.

Note that the Fleet author can see all users who viewed their Fleets, including Twitter users with protected tweets. Additionally, Twitter maintains a copy of all Fleets for some time, even after they expire. This enables them to enforce punitive measures against Fleets that go against their rules. Therefore, if a fleet is found to violate the user rules, Twitter may maintain a copy longer to allow other users a chance to appeal against the violation.

Fleets to Enhance User Privacy

Besides providing an opportunity for Twitter users to share personal thoughts, news, and opinions, Fleets provide more privacy and less harassment with a shorter life-cycle. However, ensuring privacy might be impossible, especially since Twitter doesn't explain how it will prevent users from taking screenshots and posting other users' Fleets and replies from their Fleets. There is no clear indication on if Twitter will know when a user has screenshotted a Fleet, like how Snapchat does.

Twitter also recently ramped up accountability, especially during the recent U.S presidential elections, in a bid to fight misinformation. The platform increasingly targeted abusive and harassing tweets. However, it is unclear how Twitter will moderate Fleets in the same way.

Twitter created Fleets to compete with other modern social media story apps and has plans to continually evolve with new features. Some future features include live broadcasting and virtual stickers. Additionally, Twitter has plans to test a new audio feature, called “Spaces”, resembling the audio app Clubhouse. Through this, Twitter users will be able to access non-permanent voice conversations with their followers. Twitter’s coming features show how social media platforms can move forward, allowing spaces for intentional conversations.

Will Fleets take off?  It’s hard to say.  It’s a copycat type feature and it will need a desktop version for sure to make it viable long-term.  So check it out and see if Fleets is for you!

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