Twitter Debuts Coward Mode

One of the dwarf-kings that took one of Sauron’s Rings of Power, who remained mostly a mystery in Tolkien’s works, testifying before Congress in November 2020.
One of the dwarf-kings that took one of Sauron’s Rings of Power, who remained mostly a mystery in Tolkien’s works, testifying before Congress in November 2020.
Photo: Bill Clark-Pool (Getty Images)

Great news for chickens: It’s now easier than ever to pretend you never posted that cringe to Twitter, which is rolling out a new, Instagram Stories-like type of post that auto-deletes after 24 hours. These are called Fleets, which is slightly confusing until you realize it’s a bad pun.

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Fleets has already been tested in Brazil, India, Italy, South Korea, and Japan, according to TechCrunch, but Twitter is now expanding its availability to the worldwide userbase. Twitter bills the new feature as perfect for “that thing you didn’t Tweet but wanted to but didn’t but got so close but then were like nah,” which isn’t exactly a confidence builder.

Fleets can contain media, and Fleets can be embedded into Tweets. Other users can comment on Fleets with reaction emojis or reply via direct message. If any of this sounds even the tiniest bit confusing, you’re probably over 30, like me.

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Interestingly, the Stories-like feature was one of the demands of vampiric hedge fund goons who bought a minority stake in Twitter and tried to oust CEO Jack Dorsey earlier this year, according to TechCrunch. Elliott Management Group, the hedge fund in question, had cited the lack of such a feature as evidence Twitter wasn’t innovating enough. Fleets is intended to drive more activity among users that log in but rarely post due to the (correct) concern they could be roasted for posting something ill-advised.

Twitter is also gunning for Clubhouse, an invite-only, voice chat-based social media app favored by Silicon Valley venture capitalists and amateur race scientists. At Twitter, this means audio chat rooms where users can host discussions with one or multiple other users. It’s not clear how Twitter plans to moderate these discussions or prevent them from becoming a vehicle for harassment, bigotry, and scams. The company is not exactly known as a moderation success story—it’s struggled with its reputation as a haven for trolls, white supremacists, and the president for years. Audio is far more difficult to moderate than text, especially for the algorithms Twitter leans on to assist its human safety team. Clubhouse has already blundered its way into rows over anti-Semitism—and it has just a tiny fraction of Twitter’s estimated hundreds of millions of daily active users.

Twitter told TechCrunch it’s currently only testing the audio feature with vulnerable groups, including women:

“It’s critical that we get safety right—safety and people feeling comfortable in these spaces. We need to get that right in order for people to leverage live audio spaces in the ways we might imagine or in the ways that would be most helpful for them,” explained Twitter Staff Product Designer, Maya Gold Patterson, when introducing the feature in a briefing for reporters.

“So we’re going to do something a little different,” she continued. “We are going to launch this first experiment of spaces to a very small group of people — a group of people who are disproportionately impacted by abuse and harm on the platform: women and those from marginalized backgrounds,” she added.

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According to TechCrunch, the company is also working on audio tweets and direct messages.

Finally, Twitter Senior Product Manager Christine Su told the site it is working on ways to make its users nicer, such as “methods of private feedback on the platform, as well as private apologies, and forgiveness,” which definitely won’t turn into a weird form of clout or anything.

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In any case, good luck with the bad Fleets and whatever you do, definitely don’t develop a permanent mental association between Fleeting and the brand name of a saline-based enema solution.

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post

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DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

“It’s not clear how Twitter plans to moderate these discussions or prevent them from becoming a vehicle for harassment, bigotry, and scams.”

Basically, they don’t. Not sure if more “temporary” and “secret content” is something you need unless you’re skeezing out anyway. If anything, I’d remove the ability to delete posts, or require a special request to do it, to make people think before they post and own it when they do.