On Wednesday, Twitter will begin testing a feature, called “Fleets,” that will allow you to post photos, videos, and text that disappear after a short period of time. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s nothing other than the long-awaited debut of stories on the social platform.
When Snapchat invented stories in 2013, people loved the way they could use the feature to share things without worry, and the app became a major hit. As a result, every social app began to copy it.
Facebook started the rip-off race when it built stories feature into Instagram in 2016. “They deserve all the credit,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said of Snapchat at the time. Facebook went on to build stories into every other product it owned: WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook proper.
Today, Twitter is finally changing its tune. It’s testing fleets — its try-hard name that mashes together “fleeting” and “tweets” — in Brazil, according to a company blog post. It’s also a life-imitates-art kind of feature. In The Big Disruption, a 2018 novel that satirizes and skewers Silicon Valley by former Google communications head Jessica Powell, Twitter is thinly fictionalized as “Flitter,” and tweets are “fleets.”
“People have told us in early research that because Fleets disappear, they feel more willing to share casual, everyday thoughts,” Twitter said on Wednesday. “We hope that people who don’t usually feel comfortable Tweeting use Fleets to share musings about what’s on their mind.”
Fleets cannot be retweeted or liked, the company said. They support text, GIFs, videos, and photos.
Twitter is introducing this new feature one week after reports emerged that activist investor Elliott Management bought approximately 4% of the company and is seeking to replace Jack Dorsey as CEO.