You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
After a fittingly fleeting time in the wild, Twitter is banishing its ephemeral stories feature known as Fleets, which debuted in November 2020.
Twitter began testing Fleets back in March of last year. The company thought that it might be able to lure people who were hesitant about collecting their stray thoughts into the platform’s semi-permanent format with a “lower-pressure” kind of a tweet. Many major social platforms have some form of disappearing content, so it made sense that Twitter would give things a try too — but after eight months live, Twitter is killing the feature.
Like Instagram Stories, Fleets lived on top of the timeline, highlighted in their own dedicated space. As fleets phase out, Spaces, Twitter’s Clubhouse-like audio rooms, will occupy the same slot in the app.
The company hoped that Fleets would bring new users under its wing, but the only people who really adopted the new feature were apparently already Twitter diehards. Twitter said it would go back to the drawing board to figure out how to get more people participating on Twitter and Fleets were an unfortunate casualty of that realization. Some members of the product team that built Fleets shared their thoughts on Twitter in the feature’s waning hours.
“If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while – we’re not taking big enough chances,” Twitter Consumer Product VP Ilya Brown said in a blog post.
To the company’s chagrin, the feature’s swift demise apparently inspired more enthusiasm for the product than Fleets had enjoyed previously. Twitter’s tweet announcing the death of Fleets also somehow turned into an iconic enough moment that the company made it into a collectible hoodie that reads “We’re sorry or you’re welcome,” ensuring that Fleets will live on in our hearts until we inevitably forget they ever existed — perhaps the most fitting tribute of all.