Technology

Twitter is testing disappearing tweets only in Brazil

The so-called "fleets", because of their fleeting nature, resemble Instagram Stories

Twitter estimates losses on Q1 due to COVID-19. Photo: Shutterstock
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  • Brazil was chosen because it is one of the “most conversational countries”, says company;
  • Fleets can’t be retweeted and won’t have “likes.” Replies show up as direct messages.

Twitter users may be asking to edit posts and replies, but the platform is giving them another feature: ephemeral tweets. Those are tweets that disappear after 24 hours, and they are initially being tested only in Brazil.

The company says the “fleets”, as it is calling the new disappearing posts because of their fleeting nature, are a response to the concerns of users turned off by the permanent nature of normal tweets. 

Fleets can’t be retweeted and won’t have “likes.” People can respond to them, but the replies show up as direct messages to the original tweeter, not as a public response.

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Twitter also says fleets will follow the same rules as other content on Twitter, and people can report them the same way they report tweets. Fleets won’t be available for anyone to see after 24 hours – there isn’t an archive, like on Instagram – but Twitter will hold onto them for cases of harassment, abuse, or issues that may involve law enforcement. 

Snapchat’s snaps were pioneers in this kind of ephemeral posts, and they were followed by Instagram and Facebook “stories”, which let users post short-lived photos and messages. Such features are increasingly popular with social-media users looking for smaller groups and and more private chats.

Disinformation

The company says it chose Brazil, because it is one of Twitter’s “most conversational countries.” It’s also a place grappling with issues like online disinformation: WhatsApp, in particular, became a platform for coordinated disinformation campaigns during Brazil’s election in 2018.

In a company blog post, Twitter said it will be looking into how the new feature “changes the way you interact and if it allows you to share what you’re thinking more comfortably.”

Results

Twitter has lagged behind other tech powerhouses like Facebook and Google in terms of user growth and advertising revenue. The company pulled in $1 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time last year, with most of its growth coming from the U.S. But according to the Financial Times, since the first quarter of 2017, Facebook’s advertising revenue per daily active user has increased by 72% — three times as much as Twitter’s — while its net operating margin of 34% for 2019 eclipsed Twitter’s 11%.