Why Did Twitter Get Rid of Fleets Just Nine Months After Introducing Them?

Twitter has officially gotten rid of Fleets, the short-lived Instagram Story-like profile feature that allowed users to upload temporary content.

The social network first announced that Fleets would be gone back in July, but that users could still make use of the feature until August 3.

In a blog post explaining the removal of Fleets, Ilya Brown, a Twitter product executive, said the feature had originally been intended as a "lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts."

Fleets appeared at the top of the timeline and as a blue circle highlighting people's profile pictures. Content posted as a Fleet could be a video, photo, or just text, and was live for 24 hours.

The company had hoped that by allowing users to post content in a non-permanent way it would encourage more people to join the platform.

But in July, Brown wrote: "We haven't seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like we hoped."

Fleets also ended up being used mostly by people who were already tweeting, rather than encouraging people to participate more, Brown said.

As a result, Fleets are gone, having debuted less than a year ago in November 2020.

The news was met with mixed reactions by Twitter users. On Wednesday, some appeared disappointed that the feature was gone. One user wrote: "My Twitter feels so empty without the Fleets."

For others, the feature's removal was a good thing. One user dryly said, in a tweet that received over 16,000 likes: "Oh no! Fleets are gone! Anyway…"

Oh no! Fleets are gone!

Anyway

— Gigguk (@GiggukAZ) August 4, 2021

Twitter itself had already acknowledged that the feature was not universally popular. On July 14, Twitter's own official Twitter account confirmed Fleets would be going and said: "We're sorry or you're welcome."

we're removing Fleets on August 3, working on some new stuff

we're sorry or you're welcome

— Twitter (@Twitter) July 14, 2021

Features similar to Fleets are already employed successfully by other social networks like Instragram, where they're referred to as Stories. Facebook, which owns Instagram, also has Stories.

Brown said Twitter will work on other ways to encourage people onto the platform and would soon be testing updates such as text formatting—a feature borrowed from Fleets.

"If we're not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while—we're not taking big enough chances," he said.

For now, Fleets' previous home on the top of the Twitter feed has been replaced with Spaces, which display live content.

In a second quarter earnings report for this year, Twitter said it was reaching an average of 206 million daily monetizable daily active users, up 11 percent year over year.

Twitter logo
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone screen in this photo taken in Washington D.C. in July 2019. The app removed its Fleets feature on August 3. Alastair Pike/AFP / Getty