Social Media

Twitter is Shutting Down Fleets

Stories that disappear after a period of time are where the action is on social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. But when it comes to Twitter, it looks the product itself is going to be going away in a matter of days.

Twitter has announced that it will shut down Fleets on August 3rd. Fleets were a row of full-screen tweets at the top of the Twitter timeline that expire after 24 hours. The tweet format is shutting down due to low usage after launching widely just eight months ago.

Twitter’s decision to axe Fleets is not just an admission that the feature didn’t work, but that the company still hasn’t figured out how to get people tweeting more. Twitter has often struggled to get new users to post regularly and not just consume other people’s tweets. Fleets was Twitter’s shot at using Stories to lower the pressure around tweeting.

The company said the reason for the move is a lack of activity — specifically, among the more hesitant Twitter users who it said it was trying to target with Fleets in the first place. Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of consumer product, said that the company would be building other products, but didn’t say whether they would be bringing in any more ephemeral aspects to any of them.

Spaces, the company’s answer to Clubhouse, currently sits in the same strip at the top of the app as Fleets and it will become the sole occupant of that horizontal carousel when Fleets disappears. Meanwhile, the company noted in a blog post from Ilya Brown, VP of Product, that some of what it built for Fleets would possibly reappear in other places on the app.

Ilya Brown, Twitter’s vice president of product, said in a statement, “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.”

Brown further said, “If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while – we’re not taking big enough chances. We’ll continue to build new ways to participate in conversations, listening to feedback and changing direction when there may be a better way to serve people using Twitter.”

Killing the feature now is especially sudden since Twitter just rolled it out to everyone in November and started testing ads between fleets last month. At the time, the company called the ads an “experiment” with a handful of advertisers. It’s unclear if those full screen ads will show up in other parts of the app in the future.

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