Twitter’s disappearing Snapchat clone… disappears

Most major social media platforms have tried a version of Snapchat’s Stories, but Twitter is the first to admit its experiment with disappearing content failed.

The company announced Wednesday that it will kill off Fleets, its disappearing posts product, on August 3 — less than a year after introducing it — because users were less interested in sharing their “fleeting thoughts” on Twitter (TWTR) than it expected.

“We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts,” Ilya Brown, Twitter’s vice president of product, said in a blog post. “But … we haven’t seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like we hoped.”

Fleets are posts that disappear after 24 hours and are viewed in a line at the top of a user’s feed, rather than in their timeline. And unlike typical tweets, Fleets do not receive retweets, likes or public replies; instead, users can only react to them with direct messages. The company had hoped the product would encourage infrequent Twitter users to engage on the platform more frequently.

Twitter first started testing Fleets in Brazil in March 2020 and officially launched them in November.

While Fleets didn’t catch on with Twitter users, similar products are popular on other social media sites. Snapchat (SNAP) pioneered the concept of content that disappears after 24 hours in 2013, and many platforms, including Facebook (FB), Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, have since released their own versions.

Fleets were part of a broader effort at Twitter to become more than just a place to share short blocks of text, including by adding more audio and video features.

Twitter plans to update the tweet composer to include features from the Fleet composer, including adding the full-screen camera, text formatting options and GIF stickers, after users found it helpful to be able to easily share media using Fleets, Brown added. And while Fleets will no longer show up at the top of users’ timelines, that space will still feature information on what’s happening live on the platform, such as when someone you follow is speaking in an audio conversation.