Twitter’s Rollout of its New Fleets Was – Fleeting: eDiscovery Trends

Well, that de-escalated quickly!  On Tuesday, Twitter announced a global launch of “Fleets,” the ephemeral tweeting feature it first announced earlier this year and tested in various markets around the globe.  One day later, Twitter decided to temporarily pause the Fleets rollout.  Apparently, they were a little too “fleet” with that rollout!

Warning, more puns to come.

The plan was for any mobile Twitter user, regardless of where they live or what platform they’re on, to have access to the disappearing messaging feature, which would sit right at the top of the timeline in a row of Stories-like bubbles.  At its most basic level, Fleets is a Stories clone, borrowing all of the best ideas implemented by Instagram and Snapchat. You can share text, respond to others’ tweets, or post videos with the same background color and overlaid text options you get on other messaging apps with ephemeral features, with every message disappearing after 24 hours. You can also respond to others’ fleets by tapping on one and sending a direct message or emoji to the creator, which will start a DM conversation similar to how the story reply process works on Instagram. Twitter says it will also be introducing stickers and live broadcasting at some point in the future. You cannot, however, like or retweet a fleet.

Twitter hoped the new feature would help reduce the pressure around tweeting by letting users express more casual thoughts and feelings while also concerning themselves less with saying something profound or racking up likes and retweets.  They first started testing the fleets in Brazil earlier this year before going global, starting with Android and iOS on Tuesday.

However, according to reports, their “ship has not come in” (I warned you!). Users with the Fleets feature were experiencing difficulties with the app, with Twitter lagging, freezing and even crashing completely.  The official Twitter Support account tweeted, “We’re slowing down the rollout of Fleets to fix some performance and stability problems. If you don’t have the feature yet, you may not get it for a few more days.”

Of course, ephemeral messages like fleets are certainly becoming an enema, er, enemy to legal professionals and eDiscovery managers everywhere looking to preserve evidence, as the automatic deletion of ephemeral messages are not aligned with an organization’s duty to preserve.  I even covered a case earlier this year where the instructed use of the ephemeral messaging app DingTalk after the duty to preserve began was a contributing factor in terminating sanctions against that company.  Ephemeral messaging was also a topic on my webinar with Ipro last week, where we discussed other considerations regarding use of these platforms.

Bottom line: If you’re going to use ephemeral messaging within an organization, you’d better either choose a platform that enables you to change the storage setting to indefinite for your communications, or have a backup platform in mind for collaboration/communication in your organization if under a duty to preserve.  It’s also important to include any collaboration app (as well as text apps for iOS and Android) as part of your programs to suspend automatic deletion when that duty hits.  If that’s not already the case, you must be “fleet” about updating it.  OK, I’ll stop now.

So, what do you think?  Does your organization use ephemeral messaging apps as part of your collaboration and communication?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the authors and speakers themselves, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

2 comments

  1. I wrote about this earlier today but from a different perspective. It wasn’t just that Fleet caused crashes or was ephemeral, it was a privacy and harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. It is/was different from Instagram and Snapchat’s disappearing stories and was the perfect use case for spreading disinformation, bullying, and harassment – and the target never would have known. Not to mention a government agency or corporation’s eDiscovery nightmare: https://bit.ly/3nFawfm.

  2. Thanks, Leigh! Great article — thanks for sharing! To me, it’s a bad idea on so many levels, including the ones you pointed out. Makes me wonder how those issue didn’t come up in their tests in Brazil, Italy, India and South Korea — testing as far back as March of this year.

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