Twitter has finally caved. Among the last of the major social media platforms to embrace ephemerality, Twitter announced Wednesday its plan to put its latest invention, “fleets,” to the test.
Named after their fleeting nature, “fleets” are tweets that are visible for 24 hours before they disappear into social media oblivion. The new feature closely resembles that of 24-hour “stories” pioneered by Snapchat, which were eventually adopted by Facebook and Instagram.
Twitter Product Lead Kavyon Beykpour explained the motivation for the creation of fleets. “People often tell us that they don’t feel comfortable Tweeting because Tweets can be seen and replied to by anybody, [and] feel permanent and performative,” he tweeted. “We’re hoping that Fleets can help people share the fleeting thoughts that they would have been unlikely to Tweet.”
As Beykpour wrote, fleets aren’t as public as tweets. Fleets can’t be liked, retweeted, or even publicly commented on. But users can respond to another’s fleet via direct message. Like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories, fleets also don’t appear on users’ timelines. Instead, users can only view them by tapping another’s avatar. Also, as with Facebook and Instagram stories, fleet viewers will be able to screenshot others’ fleets, unbeknownst to the users who posted them. Meaning Twitter users don’t get notified if their fleets have been recorded by viewers and followers.
Unlike other social media stories, fleets—like the Twitter platform itself—are text-based. But users have the option to attach a photo, video, or gif to enhance their fleet if they like.
Since Twitter is just testing the new feature out, fleets aren’t available for all Twitter users. Only users in Brazil can access the feature. Still, users weren’t super stoked about the site’s newest update.
“Will we be able to mute these,” one user asked Beykpour, directly replying to his announcement.
According to BBC, the hashtag #RIPTwitter began trending after fleets got their big reveal. To many, Twitter’s adoption of short-lived posts marked the end of its distinction from other social media platforms.
Other Twitter users took the opportunity to complain that their countless requests for an edit feature remain unaddressed. “Editing tweets and following hashtags would have been the top of my wishlist…” a user tweeted.
But others familiar with the platform express more serious concerns over fleets, regarding misinformation. Associated Press pointed out that “Disappearing tweets could make it harder to hold such people accountable, monitor their posts and fact-check them.”
On a lighter note, Twitter users in America poked fun at the term “fleets,” drawing a connection between the new feature’s name and an at-home enema product. The Twitter Communications team even responded to the jokes. “Yes we know what fleets means. thanks,” a team intern tweeted out for them through their official account.