Twitter Is Shutting Down Fleets, Its Vanishing-Post Format, After Less Than a Year

·3-min read

Insert your own joke here: Twitter next month is killing off Fleets — posts that disappear after 24 hours — citing low user adoption. The move to expire the expiring-tweets feature comes less than a year after Twitter widely launched Fleets last November.

As of Aug. 3, Twitter Fleets will no longer be available, the social network announced. “We’re sorry or you’re welcome,” the company tweeted cheekily from its main @Twitter account Tuesday.

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The Fleets feature mimicked other time-limited formats like Snapchat Stories, as well as Facebook and Instagram’s own copycat versions.

“We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts,” Ilya Brown, VP of product at Twitter, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “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.”

Research from earlier this year indicated that Fleets weren’t catching on. As of January, just 7.7% of Twitter users in the U.S. said they had posted a Fleet, a marginal increase compared with 6% right after the feature launched, per a YouGov survey.

According to Twitter, the company plans to use what it learned from Fleets’ relatively short existence to create other ways for users to engage on the platform.

For example, Twitter found that most Fleets include photos and videos. The company plans to soon test updates to the tweet composer and camera to incorporate features from Fleets, such as its full-screen camera, text-formatting options and GIF stickers, according to Brown.

The company also discovered that Fleets have mostly been used by people who are already actively tweeting, in order to amplify their own tweets and talk directly with others — whereas execs thought Fleets would be more appealing to less-prolific tweeters.

“We’ll explore more ways to address what holds people back from participating on Twitter,” Brown wrote.

Twitter displayed Fleets from accounts you follow at the top of the timeline. That “continues to be a good spot to highlight what’s happening right now,” according to Brown, so the app will show Twitter Spaces live-audio chats there when someone you follow is hosting or speaking in a Spaces session. The company had run a test of ads in Fleets, which ended as planned last month; Brown noted that those marked “one of our first explorations of full-screen, vertical-format ads. We’re taking a close look at learnings to assess how these ads perform on Twitter.”

The shutdown of Fleets is a standard part of Twitter’s product development cycle, according to Brown. “If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while — we’re not taking big enough chances,” he wrote.

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