Snapchat and Instagram have 'em, and now Twitter has their own variation of limited time Stories: Fleets.
Last week, Twitter rolled out Fleets via the mobile app, located along the top row, functioning like a poorer cousin to the popular Instagram Stories feature. Nearly every Fleet I've seen since has been accompanied by some faux-ironic comment about how much the person hates Fleets.
These people have not yet seen the Twitter light of yonder, for Fleets are good, actually. Fleets are the fleeting tweets that cannot be beat.
As announced by Twitter, Fleets are a "lower pressure way to talk about what's happening", as they only stick around for 24 hours before disappearing into the digital ether. When they work properly, that is.
Before releasing their Fleets upon the world, Twitter tested the feature in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea, reporting that users felt more comfortable sharing content in a more temporary format.
From a branding perspective, Fleets, like Stories on other social platforms, are a great way to share and promote things with a limited shelf life without clogging up the timeline.
For example, content creators can use Fleets to announce they're going live on Twitch, while saving their Twitter timeline for dank meme shenanigans. Also, I can share copious amounts of cat photos without alienating followers who can't stand pet pics — heathens, the lot of them.
I will, however, stop short of proclaiming Fleets are great, as there's plenty of room for improvement. Byteside editor Seamus has spent more time than he would care to admit thinking about how Fleets can flee from the naysayers.
Moderation and combating harassment is one of the eternal challenges facing social media platforms, as The Verge points out with the introduction of Fleets.
As it currently stands, Twitter doesn't notify you if someone screenshots your Fleet, and it's possible to directly include others' tweets as part of a Fleet, which seems like a potential bullying situation waiting to happen.
Another early gripe is that the only way to respond to a Fleet is via direct message, a slightly invasive way of just letting someone know you found their shitpost funny.
I can imagine the only thing worse than people sliding into your DMs requesting feet pics is receiving said requests via Fleets — Fleet feet pics, if you will.
Twitter better have solutions to these issues before they become an ongoing problem. At least they're making people think before retweeting.
Or Twitter may not have to worry about long-term solutions: Facebook Stories were dead shortly after arrival.
Which would be very apt — a fleeting existence for Fleets. But I hope they stick around so I can share some more silly stuff without fixating on permanency.