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(Pocket-lint) - In November 2020, Twitter rolled out a Stories feature called Fleets. Fleets was supposed to be a way for Twitter to better rival Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms that pioneered the Stories format.

Twitter had hoped the feature would bring more users to the platform, but after an eight month run, it was only the Twitter power-users really taking to the feature. So, in August of 2021, Twitter decided to kill the feature entirely.

Now, a feature called Spaces lives at the top of the timeline, where Fleets was once found. 

Twitter What are Twitter Fleets and how are they like Snapchat Stories image 3

What were Twitter Fleets?

Twitter's Fleets feature was essentially a direct clone of Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories. Naturally, Fleets appeared above the timeline for just 24 hours before disappearing.


How did Twitter Fleets work?

Between November 2020 and August 2021, all mobile Twitter users had access to the disappearing messaging feature, which sat at the top of the timeline in a row of Stories-like bubbles.

Fleets allowed users to share text, respond to others' tweets, or post videos with familiar background colour and text options - and every message disappeared after 24 hours. Users could also respond to others' fleets by tapping on one and sending a direct message to the creator.

How you could post Fleets

During the features short run, you would see a plus button on the row that sits above your Twitter timeline. You would tap the plus button to start a fleet. Either typing up to 280 characters of text, adding photos, GIFs, or videos. When you posted your fleet, it would appear in that row alongside other Fleets from those you follow, with the most recent visible first. Disappearing after 24 hours.

How you could react to Fleets

Although you couldn't like or retweet a fleet, you could respond to Fleets with reaction emoji - just like you can respond to tweets in direct messages. You could also respond with text, but that would open up a direct message thread with the person you’re messaging like on Instagram Stories.

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Why did Twitter kill Fleets?

Twitter kicked things off in 2020 with a small test in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea. On 17 November 2020, it announced the global launch of Fleets.

At launch, Mo Aladham, a Twitter group product manager, described Fleets in a blog post:

"Twitter is for having conversations about what you care about. But, some of you tell us that you’re uncomfortable to tweet 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."

In practice, Twitter didn't see the adoption it had hoped for from the feature. So instead, opted to go back to the drawing board looking for new ways to engage with non-existing Twitter users.

Twitter Consumer Product VP Ilya Brown said in a blog post "If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while – we’re not taking big enough chances"

Not long after the launch of Fleets, Twitter began to focus on its Clubhouse-like feature called Spaces. The Spaces feature is still live to this day, but we wonder if it will face a similar fate in the near future.

Want to know more?

Check out Twitter's support hub.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Britta O'Boyle.
Sections Twitter Apps