A new feature on Twitter designed to allow people to share “their fleeting thoughts” has faced a backlash, with many saying it encouraged harassment.
So-called “fleets” vanish in 24 hours, and Twitter said they are meant to “help people feel more comfortable joining the conversation”.
But many users spotted issues which they fear could also be abused.
Twitter said it was listening to user feedback about the new feature.
Fleets are similar to Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories, and allow users to post text, photos or video which appear in bubbles at the top of the app for 24 hours. The feature was tested in several countries, including Brazil, Italy and India, before the global rollout this week.
Concerns have been raised about whether the vanishing nature of fleets could encourage online harassment, since there will be no public record of bad behaviour.
But users also identified a range of other issues with the feature:
- fleets allow users to bypass direct message settings because they go directly to inboxes, even if DMs are closed
- people have reported being able to tag users who have blocked them
- users are not notified if someone else shares their tweet into a fleet
Twitter told the BBC: “We are always listening to feedback and working to improve Twitter to make sure it’s safe for people to contribute to the public conversation.”
It said it was “working on” ensuring people are notified if someone fleets their tweet, and on making sure that if someone blocks an individual, they should not be able to mention them in their fleets.
It also said that warnings or labels could be applied to fleets in the same way as they could to regular tweets.
Announcing the feature, Joshua Harris, design director, and Sam Haveson, product manager, described fleets as a “lower pressure way for people to talk about what’s happening”.
But not everyone agreed. Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said they “stressed” her out.
“Does the fleet thing stress anyone else out? Like I use Twitter to get away from IG stories, not have it follow me around on every platform reminding me that I don’t have make-up on,” she wrote.
Users also commented on the similarities to rival social media features, while others mocked the name, which is the same as an enema brand in the US.
Others suggested Twitter should have developed features that users have repeatedly called for, such as an edit button.