Twitter’s Snapchat rival fleets feature comes to a fleeting end

That was fleeting.

Twitter INC.

is taking down a short-lived posts feature that is destined to compete with similar services at rival social media companies after it failed to drive user engagement.

The feature, called Fleet and launched about eight months ago, provides a way for users to post text, photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. It’s a concept from years ago that has flourished in visually-focused apps like Snap-owned Snapchat. INC.,

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Twitter said Wednesday that it would stop providing the fleet feature on August 3.

“We were hoping that Fleets would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter,” said Ilya Brown, Twitter’s vice president of product. “But since we introduced the fleets to the world, we have not seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with the fleets as we expected.”

Twitter in recent years has been trying to find new ways to grow its audience, including introducing a subscription service and exploring tips for content creators. Its user growth has lagged behind Facebook and Snap. For the quarter ending in March, Twitter said it had 199 million daily active users, while Facebook reported about 1.88 billion and Snap said it had 280 million.

Fleet is not the first feature that Twitter introduced and subsequently removed. In 2015, Twitter acquired Periscope, an application that allowed users to go live on Twitter, just weeks before its launch. In March, the app was shut down after what company officials said was declining usage and an unsustainable maintenance model.

Twitter had previously acquired Vine, an app where users could share six-second videos of themselves and friends, predating the now wildly popular TikTok. Twitter announced the deal as one of its “fundamental acquisitions,” then closed the feature a few years later after failing to capitalize on the app’s popularity and losing users to rivals like Snapchat, Instagram and Alphabet. From Inc.


Social media companies have a history of copying features that are showing success for their rivals. Instagram introduced its Vanishing Stories posts to follow the success of Snapchat. Last year it added the short video service Reels in the US as TikTok’s popularity grew. Snap at the time introduced its own short video feature similar to TikTok.

Not all of these copycat efforts are successful. Stories on Instagram have been popular, but the same feature has been less successful on Facebook’s core platform. Instagram also tried to mimic Snapchat’s core functionality by launching a standalone camera-focused messaging app called Direct. It comes with Snapchat-style filters and is linked to users’ Instagram accounts. The project was closed in less than two years, and Instagram shifted its focus to messaging within its main app.

For Twitter, Fleets was meant to address some of the anxieties that keep people from tweeting, Brown said. But instead, the feature has been used primarily by people already tweeting to amplify their own content and speak directly to others.

Twitter said the Fleets experiment generated useful information about how users operate on its platform, in particular about posting photos and videos, which can stimulate updates to the platform.

The social media platform recently launched other efforts to spur user and revenue growth. In April, it introduced a subscription service for content creators, and last year it launched Twitter Spaces, a feature that allows users to host and listen to live audio conversations. It also recently began testing with a new ad format.

“We will continue to build new ways to engage in conversations, listen to feedback and change direction when there may be a better way to serve people who use Twitter,” Brown said.

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