Twitter has launched a test of tweets that self-destruct after 24 hours, a concept first popularized by Snapchat’s Stories.
The changes prompted the hashtag #RIPTwitter to trend as users complained the new feature would make the micro-blogging site too similar to other social media platforms.
Twitter said the new format is for brief or fleeting thoughts, which users may not want to be seen as tweets. These brief tweets will disappear 24 hours after they have been posted, and there is no ability for others to retweet, like or publicly comment on them.
Twitter will evaluate the test-run of fleets in Brazil before deciding to take it to other locations.
According to Twitter, an initial survey of users showed they would be more comfortable “sharing everyday thoughts” if they disappear after 24 hours.
Like tweets, Twitter fleets are based primarily on text, but you also can include videos, GIFs or photos in them. Users’ fleets will appear at the top of their home page and visible to their followers. Other users can reply to a fleet via private direct message or with an emoji.
Twitter is late to the disappearing-content game. Snapchat launched with the core feature of messages that delete after they are viewed, and back in 2013 introduced Snapchat Stories that are viewable for 24 hours. Instagram launched a copycat in 2016, a year after that Facebook did the same.
Twitter’s hope is that self-deleting posts will lead to more engagement by encouraging people to share more often and to check their Twitter feed daily. Of course, fleets can still be screen-captured by other users. But the point is to provide a home on Twitter for expiring content in part to minimize users’ fears that controversial or otherwise embarrassing old tweets will come back to haunt them. Note that while Twitter lets users manually delete regular tweets, the text can remain accessible if those are cached or cross-posted on third-party websites, applications, or search engines.
The trial launch of fleets comes after Twitter last month acquired Chroma Labs, a startup founded by three ex-Facebook employees that developed an app for editing photos and videos posted to Snapchat Stories or Instagram Stories.