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Twitter Is Experimenting With Disappearing Tweets Called “Fleets” and We Must Ask: Why?

iphone screen with social media aps.

Twitter developers never rest in their quest to make their platform as unpleasant and unusable as possible; to make it an app truly befitting the rank vitriol and misinformation that has degraded and defiled our very democracy. One might think they would try to ban hate speech or fake news, but Twitter isn’t concerned with that. Instead, they’re testing a new feature! Weeeee!

Meet “Fleets!” They’re just Tweets but they disappear–exactly like Instagram or Facebook stories–after 24 hours. It’s for “fleeting thoughts.” Get it? As if we don’t already use Twitter for whatever useless, fleeting thing crosses our mind.

Fleets will, again, exactly like Instagram and Facebook stories, show up in a little carousel at the top of your home page. In an upgrade (maybe?) from regular tweets, you can’t like, retweet or publically reply to them. I guess you can reply in DMs but … eh.

Here’s why this is inane and pointless. The whole purpose of twitter is to get engagement: it’s to have the illusion that you are talking with people, not that your content is being consumed without interaction. When you get a like it means someone read your damn thought. Stories work on Instagram and Facebook because they are visual, they are pictures and videos, and sometimes we just want to share a selfie. Not so on Twitter.

Another thing about stories is that impermanence is both something that’s already a feature of Twitter, but also a danger. These could very easily allow for more racists, sexist and dangerous content to spread and then disappear before there are consequences. There won’t be an archive of fleets, accept internally for cases of harassment. On the flip side, screenshots exist and if something is truly noteworthy, it will just be shared that way.

The real reasoning behind this is, of course, the money. When you’re mindlessly scrolling through these fleeting thoughts, you’ll get a targeted ad every fourth entry and that’s how Twitter will make more advertising dollars. It’s transparent and greedy and … well, everything we expect from Twitter at this point.

When will we get to enjoy this new feature? We’re not sure. They’re being tested in Brazil, which Twitter calls one of its most “conversational” countries. If it works there, that’s when it might roll out to other countries and markets. No word on when that will be so, for now, we’ll just continue to use Twitter as it is … however fleeting that might be.

(via Wired, image: Tracy Le Blanc/Pexels)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.