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Twitter brings its “fleets”, tweets that will go away after a while

The company will also be testing a new live broadcast feature.

4 min read

This article has been translated from our English edition.

Twitter brings its “fleets”, tweets that will go away after a while
Twitter brings its “fleets”, tweets that will go away after a while

This story originally appeared on Engadget

Twitter makes ephemeral content an official part of its app. Fleets, the Stories-like feature that was tested in March, will now be available to all Twitter users, the company said.

The “fleets”, named because they are meant for “fleeting” thoughts, are more like an Instagram story than a typical tweet. You can start a post with a block of text, a photo, a GIF, or a tweet. Fleets posted by people you follow will appear at the top of your timeline and replies will be sent to users’ inboxes.

Twitter’s rationale for this feature is similar to Instagram’s explanation when it launched Stories: it wants to remove the pressure of tweeting and make more users feel comfortable. That doesn’t seem like a real problem, but the data suggests that most users don’t tweet as much. A poll by Pew Research last year found that about 10 percent of the “most prolific” Twitter users are responsible for 80 percent of tweets in the US. Perhaps implementing a disappearing format could cause these “stalkers” to start publishing.


Image: Twitter

“We learned that fleets help people feel more comfortable,” said Joshua Harris, Twitter’s design director. “This enables a room that is less pressurized to take hot pictures or open up new perspectives, for example.”

Fleet also represents another kind of change for Twitter: it’s the first time the company has explicitly acknowledged that users may not want everything they post to stay forever. Fleets won’t solve the “cancellation culture” or people who were harassed by tweets years ago, but it could make the service more accessible to new users and long-time stalkers. According to Twitter, early evidence suggests that fleets can lead to healthier interactions.

And while Fleets is one of the biggest changes Twitter has made to its service to date, the company plans to experiment with yet another new feature that could also significantly transform the way people interact on its platform. The company also plans to test a live broadcast called Spaces. The idea is similar to the Clubhouse app: users can start voice conversations with other users in real time, much like a live chat room with only audio.

Image: Twitter

These calls are displayed in the same area as fleets and in user plans. And unlike tweets, other users can release spaces the same way they would retweet a tweet. The experimental feature could be controversial. The clubhouse has come under fire for not doing enough to prevent harassment from its small group of users (mostly elite). This could be why Twitter product designer Maya Gold Patterson plans to make her version of the feature “available to people who are disproportionately affected by abuse and harm”. The company is expected to begin testing the feature later this year.

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