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Twitter Fleets

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Updated Apr 27, 2023 at 04:48PM EDT by Zach.

Added Aug 03, 2021 at 11:44AM EDT by Owen.

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Twitter Fleets are a disappearing story-sharing feature on Twitter that first launched in November 2020. The feature was created as a way to engage people on the platform who were too anxious to actually "send tweet," and Fleets provided these users with a chance at ephemeral story content that would expire in 24 hours. The feature borrows from Snapchat and Instagram's model of disappearing story posts where users' profile pictures appear at the top of one's feed, showcasing who has Fleeted, appearing with a blue, highlighted circle around their picture. In August 2021, the feature was removed from the platform.


On November 17th, 2020, Twitter announced that it was unveiling Fleets to everyone. The original announcement tweet (shown below) championed how the feature would encourage users to Fleet, "that thing you didn’t Tweet but wanted to." Although Fleets were released in the U.S. on November 17th, the feature was tested before then in Brazil, Italy, South Korea and India.[1] Testing in Brazil started in March 2020.[2]

The feature was originally conceived as a way to encourage Twitter's more anxious users to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts publically. In a tweet from Twitter product leader Kayvon Beykpour on March 4th, 2020 (shown below), he explained how Fleets were created for users who felt a tweet may be too "permanent and performative." It's speculated that the decision to add more ephemeral content to the platform was inspired by outside pressure from the U.S. government, though this is unconfirmed.[3]

Fleets were launched the same day Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were questioned before Congress regarding the Section 230 "Liability Sheild" and their platforms' susceptibility to misinformation in general.

Removal of Twitter Fleets

Only eight months into their implementation, @twitter announced on July 14th, 2021, (shown below) that they would be removing Fleets on August 3rd, 2021. In a blog post posted to the official Twitter blog on July 14th, 2021, VP of Product Ilya Brown stated, "We hoped Fleets would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter. But, in the time since we introduced Fleets to everyone, we haven’t seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation."[4]

Despite all this, Twitter plans to implement certain features of Fleets back into their platform going forward. These features include the full-screen camera, text formatting options and GIF stickers. This is mostly due to the success of full-screen camera features on emerging platforms like TikTok.

Twitter will also keep the "top of the feed" somewhat intact by continuing its "Spaces" feature, which borrows from the up-and-coming social platform Clubhouse's concept of audio chatrooms where live conversations are held between users.

Elon Musk Hints At Fleets Return

Roughly a year after Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition, Musk posted a Twitter[8] reply on April 26th, 2023, that hinted at a possible return of Twitter Fleets, noting, "But not in the way it was done last time," receiving roughly 2,200 likes in one day (shown below).

Andrea Conw... & fleets???? 49 1 31 Elon Musk @elonmusk ● @ehiki... Apr 26 505 ● ↑ But not in the way it was done last time 2:18 PM Apr 26, 2023 425.6K Views

Soon after the reply was shared, larger Twitter accounts amplified Musk's statement, such as the Twitter[9] account @PopBase on April 26th, gaining roughly 9,600 likes in one day. Other positive reactions ensued, such as a reply from Twitter[10] user @Mottslayer that used a Let Him Cook image, gaining over 600 likes in one day (shown below, left). Negative reactions also surfaced, such as a tweet posted by Twitter[11] user @possumkid_ on April 26th that used the Freedom of Speech painting, earning roughly 1,900 likes in one day (shown below, right).

Pop Base @PopBase 23h Elon Musk announces Fleets are making a comeback to Twitter. 11:29 (2 970 t 18.6K Nicholas Bailey @Mottslayer 1 9,610 fan account @Asensii20 23h Bringing back a feature nobody ever used 40 t 51 2,158 3:39 PM . Apr 26, 2023 126.4K Views ₁9.2M ↑ 9:15 197.4K hollup... Let him cook A Tip Tip : : lake michigan sea monster @possumkid_ i never liked fleets 3:46 PM Apr 26, 2023 43.5K Views REPORT : NORMAN ROCKWELL INOW


When beginning a Fleet, the Twitter user is prompted to, "Share a fleeting thought…" by the initial template text (shown below). The user then has four options when Fleeting: Text, Camera Roll, Capture and Video. The Text option seemed to be the most utilized and the most aesthetically defining. The grey-blue gradient background and thin white text of a Fleet gave it a certain aesthetic nuance similar yet different enough from other gradient-background, white-text story aesthetics such as Instagram Stories' orange-pink gradient and multi-font options. Fleets, in contrast, provided only one, thin font that could be boldened or thinned more. Other gradient backgrounds were available to choose from that were all similar, yet different enough from Instagram's options. Twitter also included a large GIF-stickers selection inside Fleets that users could choose from.

Share Share a fleeting thought... TEXT CAMERA ROLL САР /m ago PA the steak unravels

In general, in contrast to Instagram Stories, Fleets contain fewer features. In an Instagram Story, for example, users are able to post polls, questions, Spotify or Soundcloud links and Boomerangs, as well as others.


Fleets quickly garnered a reputation on Twitter as a place only for spam and thirst-trapping. As a space hidden from most users, because statistically most Twitter users never even viewed Fleets,[5] people felt comfortable posting nudes and other lewd pictures of themselves. In the last couple of weeks of Fleets, the most viral tweets about the topic centered on this more dirty reputation, leading to numerous memes on the topic (examples shown below).

Even though early on most users didn't know about, use or even want to use Fleets (60.8 percent of Twitter users said that, "I have not viewed or posted Fleets," and 50 percent said, "I don’t want to post that type of content on Twitter," in surveys conducted by Variety_on November 30th, 2020),[5] the same could be said for Instagram-story engagement early on when it first launched on August 2nd, 2016 (61 percent of Instagram users said they "Never" posted Stories as of late August 2016).[6] Twitter never ended up officially releasing any clear statistics on the utilization of Fleets during the eight months of their implementation.[7]



The most popular form of using Fleets, besides their general reputation as thirst-traps, was for "Refleeting." In small circles of alt-Twitter pages, users would Refleet each other's Fleets, creating loopholes of screenshots, displaying each other's usernames at the top inherently. The practice gained significant traction going into the last week of Fleets (examples of Refleets are shown below).

11:36 @meemington: 9h Tnatfume 2m disappear is "Kant?" @kantoucan · 1h V anyone secretly in love GuysTdŏn't want fleets to with me disappearI never watched them but suddenly I can't imagine seeing them go tell me will it be worth it when we finally realize what we've lost? Sonda meeeane Send a messaae. Send a message Send a message :)

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