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Twitter officially kills off Fleets just eight MONTHS after launch

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 8/3/2021 Sam Tonkin For Mailonline
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Twitter has officially scrapped Fleets just eight months after it launched, with the Snapchat-like feature proving unpopular with users.

The disappearing-tweet feature, designed to compete with Snapchat and Instagram Stories, was removed today after failing to take off in the way the company hoped. 

Fleets' time on the platform was short-lived: Twitter began testing the feature last year, along with others such as Twitter Blue and super followers, and rolled it out globally in November 2020

Announcing the news of the removal of Fleets last month, the official Twitter account joked: 'We're sorry or you're welcome.' 

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Fleets allowed users to share tweets and pictures that stayed at the top of their feed in the Twitter app for 24 hours, similar to how Stories look on Instagram and Facebook. 

The company announced its plans to end Fleets in a blog post last month.

Ilya Brown, Twitter's head of product, brand and video ads, said users hadn't taken to the option the way the company had predicted.

'We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts,' Brown said. 

'We hoped Fleets would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter. But, in the time since we introduced Fleets to everyone, we haven't seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like we hoped.' 

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Brown said the company is always trying to improve and some updates 'are speculative and won't work out.'

'We're evolving what Twitter is, and trying bigger, bolder things to serve the public conversation,' he added.

'If we're not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while – we're not taking big enough chances.'

Available for iOS and Android devices, Fleets – a portmanteau of 'fleeting' and 'tweet' – couldn't be retweeted or receive public responses, but instead had to be interacted with through Direct Messages.

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Followers could reply to Fleets by sending a private Direct Message, but only if they followed each other or the account holder had their Direct Messages set to open.

The feature, which was successfully trialed in Brazil and other countries before going worldwide, gave users the option to tweet about things in a more private way, with the idea it would cut back on harassment by strangers on the platform.

In trials, Fleets seemed to make people feel more comfortable sharing personal and casual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

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Twitter executives admitted at launch that the format 'may sound familiar', referring to Snapchat, which spearheaded the art of disappearing messages, and Instagram, which followed suit in with Stories 2016.

In November 2020, Facebook-owned WhatsApp also launched 'disappearing messages' that vanish from chats after seven days.

The section where Fleets were displayed at the top of the app is now being replaced with Spaces, a more popular feature which allows users to host rooms with one another and chat.  

Last month Twitter also rolled out a new feature allowing users to choose who can reply to a tweet even after it's been sent.

The San Francisco-based media giant has been experimenting with its reply control function at least since May 2020.

Now all users can select who can reply to their live tweets—people specifically tagged in a tweet, the user's followers, or any Twitter user.

People who can't reply will still be able to view, retweet, retweet with Comment, and 'like' posts.

The company described the reply control settings as transforming Twitter threads into 'conversations' that would enable users to 'feel safer Tweeting and have more meaningful conversations.'


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Messages that vanish from a chat a week after being sent are being rolled out by WhatsApp globally in November 2020 for Android and iOS users. 

The Facebook-owned service said the update was designed to give users the option to make conversations 'feel lighter and more private'.

The long-rumoured feature is similar to one used by Snapchat, a platform Facebook has taken inspiration from in the past for new features including Instagram Stories.   

WhatsApp said its goal with disappearing messages is to make conversations 'feel as close to in-person as possible' so 'they shouldn't have to stick around forever'. 

The company confirmed that either user can activate the feature for themselves, while in group conversations the admin user will have control.

'We're starting with seven days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren't permanent,' a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

This can be done 'while remaining practical so you don't forget what you were chatting about,' they added.

'The shopping list or store address you received a few days ago will be there while you need it, and then disappear after you don't.' 

Facebook confirmed that unopened messages will also disappear after seven days.

However, previews of messages - even ones that have been deleted in the app - may still be displayed in a user's notifications until WhatsApp is opened.

The firm added that quoted text used for replies will remain visible even after the original message has disappeared.

There is also nothing in place to stop the other user from screenshotting a message, and unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won't warn you if they do take a screenshot.

'Only use disappearing messages with trusted individuals,' the company wrote on a blog post, adding that someone could also photograph the message with another device or copy and paste the text before it disappears.'  

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