Twitter has written off Fleets as a failed experiment – here's why it didn’t work

Twitter's Fleet feature showing on an iPhone
(Image credit: Twitter)

Twitter’s take on Instagram Stories has ended, with Fleets disappearing after only eight months of enabling users to post content that would only last for 24 hours.

Fleets is one of many features the company has been testing in the last year, from Twitter Blue to super followers, but Fleets was just one feature that simply didn’t take off in the way Twitter bosses had expected.

With almost every social media network, from LinkedIn to Facebook having differing takes on Stories, the bubble was inevitably going to burst somewhere – and it looks like that somewhere was Twitter.

What were Fleets?

These were Twitter’s take on auto-expiring posts, enabling users to share tweets and pictures in a post that would last for 24 hours. These would stay atop of users’ feeds in the official Twitter app, similar to how Stories look in Instagram and Facebook, so you could easily reach them.

However, while they were rolled out to all Twitter users back in June, they just didn’t take off, with users apparently happy to tweet rather than fleet their thoughts, and today (August 3) the feature was removed entirely.

Fleets was only available on Android smartphones and iPhone devices, and the section where Fleets were displayed is being replaced with the more popular Spaces feature, where users can host rooms with one another and chat.

Analysis: if you don’t try, you don’t know

Fleets were either going to take off with users or disappear altogether soon enough. These were essentially Twitter Stories but with a different name. While Snapchat launched the feature in 2013, it was their arrival on Instagram in 2018 that really made Stories go viral, with Facebook and even LinkedIn following suit with their own takes.

Stories certainly have their place on social media - users have accounts on certain platforms simply for keeping in touch with family and friends, something that’s proved hugely popular, and indispensable for many, during the pandemic. But a feature that displayed a tweet or a photo for 24 hours didn’t align with what users wanted from Twitter, and it seemed a poor fit for the platform.

Add in the fact that Fleets were always at the top of the Twitter app, taking up valuable space in your feed, and arguably they were never going to go down well.

However, Spaces looks like it could be one for Twitter to focus on more – giving users the option to create a room where other users can either listen in or contribute their opinions is a fun feature. Having this be displayed at the top of the app makes more sense, and it can increase engagement between users who haven’t interacted before.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter, 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.