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Twitter rolls out disappearing tweet feature "Fleets"

Zoe Christen Jones
·3 min read

Twitter's new disappearing tweet feature, called "Fleets," is rolling out today and will be available for all mobile users. The new feature is part of Twitter's expansion into different interactive modes for the app.

According to Twitter's announcement, "Fleets" is meant to combat the pressure of tweeting permanent things, a phenomenon that Twitter says can leave good tweets stuck in the drafts. "Today, we're launching Fleets so everyone can easily join the conversation in a new way – with their fleeting thoughts," said a company spokesperson.

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/auQAHXZMfH

— Twitter (@Twitter) November 17, 2020

Mobile users can access the feature by clicking the messaging bubbles on the top of their timeline. There they can share thoughts, tweets, and react to other's "Fleets" with the knowledge that all of it will disappear in 24 hours. Any comment to someone's "Fleet" will be sent directly to their DM, rather than be posted publicly on the timeline. Viewers will be able to see a list of who has viewed their post. "Fleets" can also be found by clicking directly on someone's profile photo. Later updates of the feature plan to include stickers and live broadcasting. 

"Through our tests in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea, we learned Fleets helped people feel more comfortable joining the conversation — we saw people with Fleets talk more on Twitter," Twitter design director Joshua Harris and product manager Sam Haveson shared in a company blog post. "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."

This isn't the first time social media has dealt with disappearing content. "Fleets" uses a very common "ephemeral format," that was first pioneered with apps like Snapchat, and then replicated for social platforms like Instagram and Facebook. However, Twitter's new rollout doesn't allow users to control who can view their "Fleets."

The new feature will be available globally in the coming days, though Twitter has yet to announce an exact timeline on the rollout. "Fleets" will be the first of several new features for Twitter as the company moves to expand its use of media from text to audio as well. "We are testing audio DMs in Brazil right now, and will bring audio spaces to Twitter in some capacity later this year," said Twitter spokesperson Liz Kelley in a statement to CBS News. "The first people to test audio space will be women and BIPOC as they are more likely to receive abuse online and therefore we want to work closely with them as we develop this feature to ensure we get it right."