For every stern admonition to be careful what you post, lest it come back to haunt you during a job interview or second date, social media platforms have offered up tantalizingly ephemeral alternatives. Following in the footsteps of Instagram and Facebook, whose “stories” features show up in a carousel at the top of users’ feeds and disappear within 24 hours, Twitter is now trialing “fleets,” intended as “a way to share fleeting thoughts.”
“Unlike Tweets, Fleets disappear after 24 hours and don’t get Retweets, Likes, or public replies,” said Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour when announcing the feature, which will first be trialed in Brazil. “People can only react to your Fleets with DMs.”
“I know what you’re thinking,” Beykpour added. “THIS SOUNDS A LOT LIKE STORIES!”
Unfortunately, the same fleeting thought in particular occurred to many Twitter users upon hearing this announcement – and it had less to do with stories that the company’s marketing department might have (and honestly should have) anticipated.
Wrote one user, Colin: “No, what I’m thinking is, “that sounds like the leading brand of enemas”, but go off.”
You’ve really got to hand it to Colin – when they’re right, they’re right. Fleet, the most widely used packaged enema, already has brand-name recognition in the queer community on the level of Uber, Advil, and FedEx; call it an inconvenient douche.
Conversely, some users were all too eager to accept their new fleet overlords.
The replies kept coming until Twitter felt the need to weigh in – by revealing that at least one intern had been in on the joke the whole time.
Now, the presence of a gay intern in Twitter HQ was to be expected. That Twitter is permitting said gay intern to take point on responding to the on-going fleet crisis speaks highly both to that intern’s social-media savvy and their tactical brilliance in smuggling the gay agenda through Twitter’s development side. It’s unsurprising many changed their tune on Twitter, pivoting from “fleeting” jokes to calls for the (still unidentified) gay intern to get everything they deserve.
Of course, Twitter seems unlikely to rename “fleets,” given that it’s already squandered “Moments” on a massively unpopular news-slideshow feature and is clearly trying to separate itself from the “Stories” features found on Facebook and Instagram. And as with the iPad and the Wii U before it, the name jokes will eventually, at least mostly pass. But there’s a strange poetry to the fact that, in announcing its push into temporary tweets to express one’s fleeting thoughts, Twitter inadvertently created a moment to remember.
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