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For the first time ever, Twitter users can post missives that automatically disappear after 24 hours.
The social network announced Tuesday that it is rolling out the ephemeral messages, called Fleets, to its 187 million daily active users. In doing so, it followers similar product rollouts from Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, which have all introduced similar disappearing messages in recent years.
“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation — it’s where you go to see what’s happening and talk about it,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing Fleets. “But some of you tell us that Tweeting is uncomfortable because it feels so public, so permanent, and like there’s so much pressure to rack up Retweets and Likes.”
When social media services first launched, they encouraged users to share photos or messages that would live permanently on their public pages. But in recent years, as engagement around those more lasting posts has declined, they have shifted to offering features that allow users to share temporary missives with their followers.
On Twitter, which has resisted this trend until the rollout of Fleets, it has become common for public figures to be criticized for old posts. The platform, which is public by design, has also faced new competition from platforms like Discord and Clubhouse, which allow for audio and video chatting. Parler, meanwhile, attracted attention during the election for cultivating a base of conservative users.
The public rollout of Fleets comes after tests in Brazil, Italy, India and South Korea. The company says that users who participated in the tests “talked” more on Twitter and encouraged the sharing of casual thoughts, opinions and feelings.
Several public figures have tested our Fleets during its first few hours of availability. They include Nick Jonas, Ricky Martin, JJ Watt and the Foo Fighters.
Among Twitter’s wider user base, the reaction to Fleets has been mixed. It’s currently the top trending topic in the U.S. and has prompted users to tweet about several other similar topics, including Snapchat, which first popularized the concept of sharing ephemeral public messages with its Stories feature. The phrase “so Twitter” is also trending as users share their frustration over other features that the company has yet to introduce. One popular request among users is an edit button for tweets.
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