It took eight months, but Fleets are officially disappearing.
Twitter confirmed Wednesday that it is ending its brief experiment with disappearing messages, dubbed Fleets, on August 3. According to the company, the Stories-like posts which lived at the top of users’ mobile Timelines never really caught on — or, at least not in the way Twitter wanted.
“We hoped Fleets would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter,” wrote Ilya Brown, Twitter’s vice president of product, in a blog post announcing the decision. “However, we haven’t seen an increase in the amount of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like we hoped.”
Twitter launched Fleets back in November of 2020 to much hype and fanfare. The logic at the time, so far as it was articulated by Twitter, was that posts which automatically disappeared after a 24-hour window would encourage otherwise shy users to post more.
“That thing you didn’t Tweet but wanted to but didn’t but got so close but then were like nah,” teased Twitter back in 2020. “We have a place for that now—Fleets!”
In hindsight, it’s noteworthy that Twitter described Fleets “as a place” for disappearing content. Fleets were always a separate, segmented product that felt apart from the core of Twitter. With Fleets, Twitter didn’t give users the ability to make tweets automatically delete at a future date. Rather, the company created a distinct place where users could temporarily dump images or videos.
In Wednesday’s blog post, Brown explained how Fleets were actually being used.
“Although we built Fleets to address some of the anxieties that hold people back from Tweeting, Fleets are mostly used by people who are already Tweeting to amplify their own Tweets and talk directly with others.”
We asked Twitter if the decision to retire Fleets in any way affects its decision to, as of yet, deny users the ability to set future expiration dates for their tweets.
“We’re still exploring ideas like this and others to help people feel more comfortable joining the conversation,” replied a spokesperson.
Brown did, however, insist that this is not the last Twitter product which may get spun up only to later be unceremoniously killed off.
“If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while — we’re not taking big enough chances,” Brown wrote.
With only three weeks left for Fleets, it looks to be a relatively quick death for a feature that was already dying of natural causes. So go ahead and say your goodbyes to Fleets now, before it disappears one final time.