Social media platforms are always evolving and changing, so much so that it’s difficult to keep up with what features are available where.
Many platforms offer their own versions of Instagram “stories”, a disappearing message on a countdown. This is what you need to know about Twitter's version of the social media “story”.
What are Fleets?
In a seven part thread on Twitter, the company’s product lead Kayvon Beykpour said: “Every day, people come to Twitter to see what’s happening. One of the unique things about Twitter is that “what’s happening” is fueled by people sharing their thoughts openly, through Tweets. But sharing your thoughts can be intimidating!”
Beykpour goes on to say that people often tell the Twitter team that they feel uncomfortable tweeting because their tweets can be seen and replied to by anybody.
Beykpour says that people feel that their tweets are “permanent and performative”. He says that they’ve been listening to this feedback and have started working to create ways to help with the anxieties that hold people back from sharing on Twitter.
The first of those “new capabilities” is called Fleets.
“Fleets are a way to share fleeting thoughts,” Beykpour explains in the fourth tweet in the seven part thread. “Unlike Tweets, Fleets disappear after 24 hours and don’t get Retweets, Likes or public replies - people can only react to your Fleets with DMs.”
Are Fleets just like Instagram stories?
The new feature will be similar to other features found on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat - vanishing posts which will only be available to view for a short period of time before they disappear forever.
The message will appear when a user’s profile picture is clicked - similarly to Instagram stories, there is no way to publicly comment or like the story, except via Direct Message.
However, Beykpour pointed out that there are differences.
“I know what you’re thinking: “THIS SOUNDS A LOT LIKE STORIES!”. Yes, there are many similarities with the Stories format that will feel familiar to people,” Beypour said.
He continued: “There are also a few intentional differences to make the experience more focused on sharing and seeing people’s thoughts.”
Can I protect my tweets?
Where Beykpour explains that some users feel uncomfortable tweeting about certain things because their tweets can be replied to by anyone, there are actually ways to protect your tweets from being engaged with by people you don’t know.
To start, you can make your Twitter profile private - people have to request to follow you and until then, your tweets are hidden from them.
Your tweets also won’t be able to be retweeted by your followers, so there is no risk of people outside your followers from seeing your tweets.
If you don’t want to lock your account down completely, you can manage notifications from people who you don’t follow, and who don’t follow you.
Go to settings > notifications > advanced filters and you’ll be taken to a screen which allows you to mute notifications from people:
You don’t followWho don’t follow youWho have a new accountWho have a default profile photoWho haven’t confirmed their email addressesWho haven’t confirmed their phone numbers
When will Fleets be available?
Testing of Fleets began in Brazil on Wednesday 4 March.
Beykpour says that this is quite a substantial change to Twitter, so the team is excited to learn from its limited release in Brazil, and seeing how their users react to it.
At this time there are no details on when this feature would be rolled out worldwide.
The announcement of the new feature didn’t appear to go down very well with Twitter's user base, with #RIPTwitter trending in response to the news.
One Twitter user wrote: “I can’t believe we have to keep having to say this. All I want in my Twitter timeline are tweets from the accounts I follow, in the order in which they are tweeted. No “Likes”. No “Home”. No “Fleets”. WHY IS THAT SO HARD?”
Another tweeted: “@Twitter is the only thing I’m constantly on, no FB, f**k Instagram. If this “fleets” thing is happening… Idk anymore, y’all are gonna make me delete all my social media accounts.”
“Twitter could give us an edit button, an irony font, remove the fascists, improve the algorithms to deal with hate speech. Instead we’re going to get lame “stories” (AKA Fleets); ephemeral 24 hour content. Why do you think we are here and not on Instagram? #RIPTwitter,” despaired another.