Does Twitter really need Stories?


There’s a new Twitter feature in town, and sadly, it’s not the edit button. Following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram on the yellow brick road to “Story” fame, the microblogging giant has decided to test out disappearing tweets in the form of a Stories-like feature it is calling “Fleets”. 

Think of Fleets as a way of sharing all those super interesting thoughts you have with the rest of the world before you forget them. They disappear within 24 hours and other users are unable to retweet or like them. For now,  the feature is only currently being tested in Brazil and tests will run for a few months before it launches to the wider Twitterverse.

A user about to share a Fleet

Twitter took its massive 145-million daily active users into account and decided to address a major reason people tweet less frequently – namely that feeling of discomfort that comes with sharing things publicly on Twitter – and created an avenue for them to share “fleeting” thoughts. One word for this move is BRILLIANT. 

Not having your random thoughts permanently on your timeline can be liberating and can feel awesome for those that just want to share casual or intimate, everyday stuff.

How Fleets work

Fleets don’t show up on individual timelines, moments, searches and can’t be embedded on external websites. In Brazil, where Fleets are currently being tested by Android and iOS users, selected testers will see a carousel of round profile icons at the top of their timeline (TL) on the Twitter mobile app, similar to the way Stories are displayed on Instagram and WhatsApp.

The first icon on the carousel you see is a prominent + sign on your own profile photo which when tapped can allow you to post new Fleets. Fleets can only be replied to via direct message and other users can also react to them using emojis. So, its straight to the DMs with Fleet responses for everyone.

Now here comes the major drawback for Fleets: it does not support Filters! Yes, sadly there will be no fancy editing tool or super fun filters to change faces like Instagram or Snapchat. Instead, Twitter has gone text-centric and put a limit to what you can “fleet”. Only 280 characters are allowed, just like regular tweets, and you only have the option to add GIFs, photos and videos. Videos are capped at 2 mins and 20 seconds in length and cannot exceed 512MB in file size. Multiple Fleets can be viewed by tapping on an avatar and repeatedly swiping down to view subsequent Fleets.

Do we really need Fleets?

A major headache for Fleets is figuring out which Fleets Twitter will pick as the first one to show on your home screen. A typical Twitter user follows hundreds and even thousands of people. Who gets to decide accounts that appear first on the carousel? 

Another challenge is how are such users expected to view Fleets from all the people they are following, especially since those Fleets become lost to the public after 24 hours. Or will Fleets have a grouping option so it’s easier to only see Fleets from close friends and people the user interacts with the most?

A user's fleet shared on the Twitter app.

Lastly, with Cancel Culture having become a major part of life on Twitter, Fleets would more or less make it easier for offenders to leave offensive comments, with the knowledge that such messages would be gone after 24 hours. This could effectively render cancel culture obsolete because such messages cannot be dug up or referenced again after their 24-hour lifespans. 

All in all, Fleets sound like a really cool feature to have, but one that still has quite a few wrinkles left for Twitter to iron out. Are you excited to try it out, or would you rather have gotten an edit button? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.