Twitter is the latest social media platform to announce that they are launching a disappearing feature. The new feature called ‘Fleets’ is now available to its 321 million users worldwide after several trials in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea found that Fleets ‘made people talk more on Twitter’.

Although Twitter’s user base does not include as many young people as Instagram or Snapchat, arguably this feature may be used as a vehicle to attract younger users to the platform

How does it work?

  • Similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, users are now able to share text, tweets and videos which will then disappear after 24 hours

  • Fleets will appear on users’ profiles as well as in the feeds of their followers

  • Users will also be able to respond to other people’s Fleets by tapping on them and sending them a direct message or emoji, this will then start a private chat

  • Currently, users cannot like or retweet a fleet

  • At present, Twitter will not notify users if a user screenshots their Fleet

What are the risks for children and young people?

Since announcing the new Fleets feature, Twitter has already received backlash from a variety of communities, prompted by fears that the new tool will facilitate bullying and harassment.

We have highlighted the key risks below:

  • Due to the seemingly temporary nature of the feature, there are concerns that users may use disappearing tweets to post things that they usually wouldn’t

  • Users may not understand that their posts could be screenshotted and shared elsewhere without them knowing, meaning there is a permanent record of things they said

  • Users do not receive a notification if someone has shared their tweet in a fleet, which may result in more online bullying or trolling

  • There are concerns that users can tag anyone in their Fleets, including users who have blocked them

What are the risks for professionals?

Fleets may pose a risk for the professional reputation of users, as they may feel emboldened to post controversial statements or beliefs in response to contentious debates on the platform. All professionals should remember the importance of the appropriate use of social media.

  • Adults may post controversial Fleets, emboldened by the fact that they seemingly disappear after 24 hours

  • The political climate is divisive at present, which means there are ample opportunities to engage with people on Twitter over disagreeing views via Fleets

  • Professionals could risk their reputation when posting controversial Fleets

Top Tips for professionals on Twitter

Our online safety experts have offered the following tips to promote the appropriate use of social media:

  • Always remember that your personal account is not the same as private – Once a comment is posted on social media, it ceases to be private

  • Always pause and think before you post – would you want your mother, boss, or children to see it?
  • Other users can always screenshot a social media post without the person knowing, meaning everything could be permanent

Essential Advice for Protecting Children and Young People

If young people in your care use Twitter, it is essential to talk to them about the platform, highlighting key risks and how to use it safely.

  • Support children and young people to understand the limits of Fleets and how almost everything posted can be saved

  • Check that young people understand what they should and shouldn’t share with others online

  • Make sure that children and young people in your care can identify trusted adults they would talk to if someone made them feel uncomfortable online

  • If you use Twitter, reflect on how you use the platform and consider the example you model to the children and young people in your care

  • Use Our Safety Centre to equip yourself with the latest online safety information and guidance so that you can support the children in your care to block and report harmful behaviours on Twitter

Resources

  • For more information on cyberbullying, check out our latest article here

  • For more information on online trolling, click here

  • For more information on staying safe on Twitter including how to block, report, and configure privacy settings, check out Our Safety Centre here

  • Find out how to report Fleets with for iOS and Android

  • Check out our Twitter Safety Card here

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