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What were Twitter Fleets and how did they work?

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I’m the guy you see dancing in the rain in the middle of the night. Pursuing my bachelor’s in literature, I love to read and write and I’m somewhat of a decent storyteller. A die-hard fan of Miyazaki and Murakami and my go-to quote is “The past is a foreign country, we do things differently there”.

In November 2020, the social media giant unveiled the Stories feature dubbed Fleets. This feature was expected to be Twitter’s trump card against its competitors Snapchat, and Instagram, and several other services that spearheaded the Stories Style.

However, after an eight-month existence, the feature was only popular with Twitter’s most affluent and influential members. As a result, in August of 2021, Twitter chose to remove the feature from its service.

Twitter's disappearing tweets, called Fleets, are now available for everyone - The Verge

Fleets were originally located at the top of the timeline, but now there is a new feature called Spaces.

What were Twitter Fleets?

Essentially a copy of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, Twitter’s Fleets feature was indeed a direct clone of the service. Fleets only emerged for a brief period before dissipating.

How did Twitter Fleets work?

The vanishing messaging option, which appeared in a series of Stories-like bubbles at the front of the timeline from November 2020 to August 2021, was available to any mobile Twitter accounts throughout that period.

Users could send and receive text messages, tweets, and videos using Fleets’ employing standard backdrop colors and fonts, but all of their work was deleted after 24 hours. By tapping on another user’s fleet, users could convey a message to the person who made it.

How you Could React to Fleets?

In even though you could not like or retweet Fleets, you could respond to them with emojis in the same way as you may react to tweets in instant messages. For those who prefer text, you can do so by replying to the person you’re messaging in a direct message.

Why did Twitter kill Fleets?

To get the ball rolling, a minor test was conducted in Italy, India, South Korea, and Brazil in 2020. Fleets become global on November 17th, 2020.

Fleets were first mentioned in a blog post by Mo Aladham, a product manager for Twitter’s group product.

“Twitter is for having conversations about what you care about. But, some of you tell us that you’re uncomfortable tweeting because tweets are public, feel permanent, and have public counts (retweets and likes). We want to make it possible for you to have conversations in new ways with less pressure and more control, beyond tweets and direct messages. That’s why starting today in Brazil, we’re testing Fleets, a new way to start conversations from your fleeting thoughts.” 

Twitter starts testing its own version of Stories, called 'Fleets,' which disappear after 24 hours | TechCrunch

The feature didn’t get the traction Twitter had hoped for in practice. To find new ways to connect with those who don’t use Twitter, the social media giant decided to the design process and come up with fresh ideas.

According to VP Ilya Brown “If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while – we’re not taking big enough chances.”

Following the release of Fleets, Twitter began focusing on its Clubhouse-like Spaces feature. We don’t know if the Spaces function will go the same way, but we’ll keep an eye on it.


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