Twitter’s experiment with disappearing tweets is off to a slightly dodgy start. Twitter calls them Fleets and they are supposed to disappear after 24 hours of being posted—they are basically stories with photos or videos or text. However, there is a bug that is allowing Fleets to remain accessible even after 24 hours, because they are not being deleted properly. It has been a week since the feature was rolled out. That means users can access and download Fleets posted by others without triggering any notification that the Fleet has been seen or downloaded. Twitter has since confirmed the issue and says a fix is on the way.
There is an app that can be used to access Fleets from Twitter accounts that are public, according to the details shared by Techcrunch, who point us to tweets by an account @donk_enby which shared a developer API that can interact with the lists of Fleets on Twitter’s servers. The app is able to access Fleets that should have elapsed since their 24-hour duration was over, but they haven’t been deleted from the servers. Twitter has in the meantime said a fix is on the way and should be rolled out shortly. “We’re aware of a bug accessible through a technical workaround where some Fleets media URLs may be accessible after 24 hours. We are working on a fix that should be rolled out shortly,” they say in an official statement.
The fix will hopefully delete Fleets after they complete the 24-hour visibility cycle. Twitter stores a copy of Fleets on its servers for a period of 30 days. The fact that this API is able to access the servers means a user will not get any notification of someone accessing the Fleet they posted—since that action is reserved only for when someone is viewing the Fleet via the Twitter app.
Twitter’s Fleets, in a way, are much like Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories or Facebook Stories, if you have used them already. It is just that Twitter arrived to the disappearing posts party much after everyone else did.