Twitter announced on Wednesday that it is killing its Fleets feature, which I honestly forgot existed. The news will matter to the minuscule gaggle of insufferable Twitter superusers who posted Fleets and literally no one else.
Launched globally last November, Fleets are Twitter’s take on content that disappears after 24 hours—its version of Instagram Stories, which Facebook ripped off from Snapchat, which is a company that currently exists. Today, some version of a Snapchat knockoff lives on most social media platforms, including LinkedIn for reasons outside the scope of soulful comprehension.
“We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts. We hoped Fleets would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter,” Ilya Brown, Twitter’s head of product, brands and video, wrote in a blog post announcing Fleets’ demise. “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 with Fleets like we hoped.”
The problem, according to Brown, is that “Fleets are mostly used by people who are already Tweeting to amplify their own Tweets,” not people who are apprehensive about tweeting in the first place. This outcome is both entirely predictable and a sliver of good news: People should not be encouraged to tweet more, especially if they’re already second-guessing whether it’s a good idea to post something on the internet.
To be perfectly clear, I suck at Twitter and my only advice for anyone looking to grow their social media presence is, don’t. But what I can say with confidence is that “ephemeral” posts on social media are a lie. Anything you say online can quickly become permanent in ways that are entirely out of your control—just ask Brandi Levy, whose posts on Snapchat led to a goddamn Supreme Court case because people copied them and started sharing them around her high school. To the extent that Fleets’ death matters at all, which it doesn’t, it’s good that the world will have one fewer way for people to complicate their lives by posting.
So, as of August 3, Fleets will disappear as a feature, which seems apt for a feature built entirely around the premise of disappearance. And on that day, absolutely nothing will change, nothing will be lost, and we’ll all once again forget any of this ever happened.