Three years ago, there was this meme about how everything was getting stories. Snapchat. (The originator. Credit where credit is due!) Instagram. Facebook. YouTube. Owen Wilson’s teeth! A year later, LinkedIn even got in on the trend. It seemed like by now everybody who needed stories — and a lot of platforms who didn’t — had them. And yet …
Now, Twitter is currently testing its own version of stories with users in Brazil, the company announced in a blog post earlier Wednesday. It brings me no joy to tell you this, but they are called “fleets.” A name so heavy-handed I will not insult your intelligence by explaining its meaning. Product lead Kayvon Beykpour called fleets “a way to share fleeting thoughts.” (He, apparently was not above insulting your intelligence.) “Unlike Tweets, Fleets disappear after 24 hours and don’t get Retweets, Likes, or public replies — people can only react to your Fleets with DMs,” he added, of course, on Twitter where tweets last forever unless you delete them.
There’s a world where fleets could be a great thing. Plenty of people electively purge all their tweets on a scheduled basis. Not having a years-long record of every moronic thing you’ve said on the internet actually seems like a good idea. Putting more protection around those dumb thoughts and making them ephemeral? Sounds good to me. But, of course, this probably isn’t going to eclipse Twitter’s core product. The one where people joke and yell and fight and nag and troll and display their racism all out in the open and on the record. Though Twitter, if the tests go over well, might be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Instagram, where stories radically changed how people use the platform. But that’s a big wait and see scenario.
Like on every other platform with stories, you can see a person’s, ugh, fleets, by clicking their avatar or looking at a feed at the very top of the app. In a later tweet, Beykpour said he hoped the new feature would encourage engagement from people who might previously have been unlikely to tweet. Because what Twitter really, definitely needs is more people engaging. Y’all fleet fleet motherfuckers.