American micro-blogging website Twitter has brought its much-awaited ‘Fleets’ feature to India, the world’s second-most populous country. Fleets is similar to Instagram’s Stories and lets users post ephemeral content.
“We’re testing a way for you to think out loud without the Likes, Retweets, or replies, called Fleets! Best part? They disappear after 24 hours,” Twitter India said in a tweet on Tuesday.
The San Francisco-based company had announced a phased global roll-out of Fleets, which is still in the testing phase. Last month, the pilot started with Brazil and was extended to Italy. The company said it started testing the new way of having conversations as some people feel insecure to tweet because the posts are public, permanent, and exhibit public engagement counts such as ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’.
Fleets allows Twitter users to share updates for a day, which, like Stories, sit at the top of the screen on one’s profile. Anyone can visit a public Twitter profile and tap to view the user’s Fleets, but these messages won’t circulate on Twitter’s network or show up if a users searches for it on the platform.
Twitter is one of the last social media platforms to roll out such a feature in India. The concept of Stories–disappearing messages– is said to be conceptualized by US-based Snapchat, and has been adopted by other major players including Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
India is in fact the most obvious choice for global tech giants, given the sheer population and its rapidly increasing internet penetration. While China, Asia’s largest economy, has been out of reach for a majority of US firms, India gives them the benefit of targeting millions of tech-savvy millennials willing to experiment and adopt new features.
According to media reports, Twitter had about 55 million monthly active users in India in April. However, its user base dwarfs when compared to Facebook’s estimated 350 million monthly users, Instagram’s 94 million users, and YouTube’s 265 million users. The South Asian nation is the second-largest internet market in the world with more than half a billion users and as many smartphone users.
“India is important for Twitter since it is one of our largest and fastest-growing audience markets globally. We are excited to bring the Fleets experiment to India and make it one of the first three countries in the world to experience this new product,” Manish Maheshwari, managing director at Twitter India, said in a statement.
“From the test in India, we’ll learn how adding a new mode of conversation changes the way Indians engage on Twitter. It’ll also be interesting to see if it further amplifies the diversity of usage by allowing people to share what they’re thinking in a way that is light-touch and light-hearted,” he added.
It is to be noted that Twitter has been struggling in India to increase its user-base. And that it has also been scrutinized, along with other social media companies, for not taking timely action against the spread of misinformation and abusive messages.