Twitter has rolled out a major new feature that has users divided: tweets that disappear after 24 hours.
Called Fleets – a riff on ‘fleeting thoughts’ – they function in a similar way to Instagram and Snapchat stories, and have been designed to encourage users to participate in Twitter without worrying about retweets or likes.
You can Fleet text, photos, and videos, while customising them with colored backgrounds and text options. Your Fleets will appear at the top of your followers’ timelines, as well as on your profile page, and others can respond to them through sending a direct message – if you have your DMs open.
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That thing you didn’t Tweet but wanted to but didn’t but got so close but then were like nah. We have a place for that now—Fleets! Rolling out to everyone starting today. pic.twitter.com/auQAHXZMfHNovember 17, 2020
Users can also tag others in Fleets, including those who have them blocked, which isn't ideal, as it essentially circumvents the block. Twitter has acknowledged this issue, and said it's working to modify Fleets so those people you have blocked are unable to mention your handle.
Despite that, people are still flocking to use the new feature, and Twitter has been struggling under the sheer load of users trying out Fleets, with many finding their Fleets freezing, lagging, or crashing as a result.
Talking about the rollout of Fleets in a blog post, Twitter design director, Joshua Harris, and product manager, Sam Haveson, write:
“Those new to Twitter found fleets to be an easier way to share what's on their mind. Because they disappear from view after a day, fleets helped people feel more comfortable sharing personal and casual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
"We've learned that some people feel more comfortable joining conversations on Twitter with this ephemeral format, so what they're saying lives just for a moment in time."
This format has become an increasingly familiar feature of social media platforms in the last few years. Snapchat introduced stories in 2013, with Instagram, YouTube, and even LinkedIn implementing similar functions since then. Twitter may be late to party, but everyone seems to be getting on board.