Twitter fleets preview

Twitter trialling self-expiring ‘fleets’ tweets in Brazil

Image credit: Twitter

Twitter is trialling posts which disappear after 24 hours, inspired by the “stories” features pioneered by Snapchat and adopted since across many social media platforms.

The disappearing tweets, dubbed ‘fleets’, can be viewed for a day after they are posted by tapping a user’s profile picture. Fleets are essentially identical in both concept and design to stories: social media posts added to a profile which vanish after a certain period of time.

Twitter users involved in the trial will see a new row at the top of their timelines containing a '+' button and circular profile icons which open recent fleets from other users, ordered chronologically. A user can add their own fleets by tapping the + button. Like tweets, fleets can contain up to 280 characters, gifs, videos and photos.

Other users will be able to react to fleets with emojis or direct messages. Fleets will not get retweets, likes or public replies.

Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour wrote: “Every day, people come to Twitter to see what’s happening. One of the unique things about Twitter is that 'What’s happening?' is fuelled by people sharing their thoughts openly, through tweets. But sharing your thoughts publicly can be intimidating.”

He explained that Twitter hoped these new features would “address some of the anxieties that hold people back from talking on Twitter”. While he acknowledged that fleets appeared to have much in common with stories, he said that there are some intentional differences focused on making the experience focused on seeing people’s thoughts.

The feature has reportedly been in development for over a year. Fleets are initially being trialled in Brazil, with the possibility of being rolled out to other countries if users' reception to the feature is positive.

Twitter hopes that the new feature will encourage users to share “fleeting thoughts” that they would be unlikely to tweet. The introduction of stories to rival social media platforms Snapchat and Instagram has encouraged a more casual, conservational and sometimes intimate form of sharing, with users feeling secure that the content they share will not remain on their public profiles forever.

Snap – which first introduced the ephermeral stories features in Snapchat – reportedly kept a dossier to record instances of Facebook’s aggressive copycat behaviour. According to the documents, after Facebook failed twice to acquire Snap, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned Snap to accept an acquisition or see Facebook copy Snapchat’s core features, notably its adoption of disappearing posts.

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