What are Twitter Fleets? Here's everything you need to know about the 'Instagram Killer'

If you were randomly scrolling on Twitter and were confused about what the hell 'Fleets' were, crease your brow no more. Here is a low down of Twitter's newest feature

                            What are Twitter Fleets? Here's everything you need to know about the 'Instagram Killer'
(Getty Images)

If you were randomly scrolling on Twitter and were confused about what the hell "Fleets" were, crease your brow no more. Here is a low down of Twitter's newest feature that is the platform's take on Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories that disappear after some time. It is called "Fleets" to stand for "fleeting thoughts", and are a lot less impermanent than the usual tweets. While launching its newest feature, the company also revealed that it is still planning to add to its audio-based social networking features. It has already launched voice tweets and is planning to introduce a transcription feature to make them accessible to hearing-impaired users. In addition, it will also add features to mimic the Clubhouse voice-chat app by hosting live audio "rooms" to allow small groups of people to talk -- something that is becoming more relevant in the post-COVID-19 world. 

What are Fleets?

The feature will allow users to post ephemeral content that disappears in 24 hours -- this is an in-app feature that both Instagram and Facebook have experimented with successfully. Unlike permanent tweets, which, even if deleted, can be cached or cross-posted on other third-party sites and also search engines, Fleets are designed to leave no traces behind but still could technically be screenshotted. Unlike tweets, Twitter Fleets cannot be retweeted or shared, liked or publicly commented on. It is designed to make people share content "spontaneously". 

Following the standard format of 'Stories' on other platforms, you can access the feature located at the top of the Twitter timeline whenever you want to share something. Your fleets will show up at the top of the home timeline of your followers. To share a Tweet in a Fleet tap the “Share” icon at the bottom of the Tweet and then tap, “Share in Fleet.” Then, add what you think about it with some text or emojis. 

Fleets can quote tweets with reactions and include text, links, mini 30-sec videos, GIFs or single photos. Other users will be able to reply to Fleets via direct messages. Twitter is still refining Fleets though, so you can expect more creative tools and modes that will only expand how people can share things through this feature. Plans include dynamic stickers add-ons like insta polls or Q&As, sending audio-only messages, and live video support. 

Why has Twitter introduced Fleets?

Twitter missing a 'Stories' mode was seen as an area where the company had fallen behind other social media rivals in terms of innovation. According to company reps, many users, especially those new to the service, are fearful of posting permanent tweets because of how deeply they define your 'personal brand'. “Instead of tweeting, people follow along silently or just lurk. We see people draft tweets and don’t send them,” said Joshua Harris, director of design at Twitter, on the decision to launch the feature. Fleets will create “a lower-pressure way for people to join the conversation,” Harris added.

Will it be successful?

In the initial test run for Fleets in countries like Brazil, South Korea, India, Italy, and most recently, Japan, Twitter users engaged more using the 24-hour expiring format than they would have using conventional tweets, which is why it is being dubbed the "Instagram-killer". Since people can look at your Fleets without following you, or otherwise engaging with your account, it is the best medium for viral content released by celebrities and influencers who do not want to leave a permanent record on any social media platform. 

The entertainment industry is already abuzz with the possibilities for boosting fan engagement through Fleets. “The fact that Fleets disappear from Twitter after 24 hours will spark a new wave of creativity and engagement tactics,” J.D. Tuminski, VP of digital marketing at Def Jam Recordings, told Variety. “Fleets adds a new tool to the social arsenal for our artists, enhancing their ability to share creative content on-the-go, post hot takes in real-time, highlight their fans, and more.”

What's the user response in the US? 

Reactions to the newest feature have been mixed. Fleets was trending with many calling it the death knell for IG stories. Pat McAfee, former NFL player, professional wrestler, and American sports analyst posted: "Cause of death: Fleets" with a picture of a 'In Loving Memory' gravestone for Insta stories. Another user posted: "dawg we’ve had fleets for like less than 4 hours and i’ve seen a**, music, jokes, coochie, selfies, sh*tposts, and [expletive] doing blow. PACK IT UP INSTAGRAM ITS OVER". However, another user posted the 'Kombucha girl' meme to show the feature's weak spot. He posted "Trying out Twitter Fleets" over the girl's pleasantly surprised face, and labeled her disgusted face with the words, "Finding Out Twitter Fleets Replies go straight to DM’s".  




Others commented on Twitter moving into the already crowded space of ephemeral Insta stories. "Fleets, Instagram, Tiktok... All social media is beginning to morph into each other. It’s like that Jordan Peele movie 'Us'" said actress Jennifer Tilly. Another tweet rhymed out dissatisfaction, commenting: "here comes the 'bitches always watching my fleets but never liking my tweets' mfs."



There is also concern about the name of the feature itself. Fleet is a popular brand of enema that is very known within the gay community -- as ubiquitous as Xerox and Kleenex, which made some users wonder if no gay men worked at Twitter. "Twitter decided to name their version of stories 'fleets' now i have to watch gay men make douching 'jokes' for the next 48 hours," commented one user. Twitter's communication team seems to be aware of the problem, tweeting: "yes we know what fleets means. thanks - gay intern". 




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