Back in March 2020, Twitter began testing ephemeral content in the form of Fleets. This was similar to Instagram and WhatsApp's Stories and Status features respectively where content posted in these spaces automatically disappears after 24 hours. In June 2020, it launched the feature in India, before globally rolling it out in November of the same year. Now, just nine months after this launch, Fleets is being killed off.
Twitter says that Fleets was not being used as intended. It was aimed at facilitating users to share content in a "lower-pressure" environment, but it was instead heavily used by people who are already active on the platform and utilized it to promote their tweets and directly engage with their followers. As such, Fleets will be shut down on August 3, 2021.
That said, the failed experiment has brought some valuable insights for the company. It has noticed that people share a lot of media content in Fleets, so the same capabilities will be tested and eventually integrated with the Tweet composer too. These include full-screen camera, text formatting, and GIF stickers. The top part of the Twitter page will not host Fleets after August 3, but it will still be available for live audio conversations. Finally, the company will also be exploring the impact of full-screen vertical ads introduced in Fleets. Twitter says:
We’re evolving what Twitter is, and trying bigger, bolder things to serve the public conversation. A number of these updates, like Fleets, are speculative and won’t work out. We’ll be rigorous, evaluate what works, and know when to move on and focus elsewhere. 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.
Twitter clearly wants its users to engage more on the platform. It will be interesting to see what other features are in the pipeline when it comes to this space.