Twitter Addresses Early Issues with Fleets, Including People Viewing Fleets Without Showing Up in ‘Seen’ List

Twitter has addressed some early concerns with its new Stories-like tool ‘Fleets’, after some users expressed concerns over accessibility and transparency in the Fleets usage process.

As we reported last week, a day after announcing the full launch of Fleets, Twitter then slowed the roll-out down due to back-end server issues caused by the influx in Fleets usage. That increased demand also appears to have caused some other errors which were noticed by users, though Twitter says the problems are now all but fully resolved, and some other reported errors are actually not functional issues.

First off, Twitter says that some users reported being able to see Fleets beyond their 24 hour expiry period. This was a system issue – as explained by Twitter:

“Fleets are not viewable in Twitter apps after 24 hour, however our backend system has a queue that deletes Fleets media after 24 hours. This system fell behind on Friday morning PST due to scaling problems. That meant that developers could save a Fleet URL during the 24 hours the Fleet was active. Due to our queue backlog, that URL may have still been accessible after the Fleet expired. The queue is now caught up and we’ve updated our systems to reduce the likelihood that this reoccurs.”

As such, this should not be a recurring issue, and you can expect that Fleets will indeed disappear after 24 hours from now on.

Twitter also says that there were some reports of non logged-in users being able to view Fleets, which should not be possible.

“To clarify, people using Twitter apps can only see Fleets when logged in. But it’s possible for developers to make API calls to return Fleets metadata through a common behavior called “scraping”. We don’t believe this is a security or privacy concern because Fleets (from accounts without the “protected” setting) are public. We updated our systems today to require an authenticated session before requesting Fleets metadata, to add more friction to use these APIs.”

So because the only Fleets that could be displayed in this manner have to be posted publicly, this doesn’t violate individual user privacy settings, so while it shouldn’t be possible, there are ways in which Fleets could be displayed to non logged-in users.

And lastly, Twitter says that some people were found to be viewing Fleets without showing up in the creators’ ‘seen by’ list.

“Our goal is to show a list of people who’ve seen your Fleet, but we don’t guarantee completeness for technical and experience reasons. For example, we cap the list when it gets long. The edge cases that can result in a mismatch between the “Seen by” list and the actual people who saw your Fleet are uncommon, but we realize that this may not have aligned with expectations. We’re taking this feedback seriously and considering how we can improve.”

So again, this is possible, but only in a theoretically limited number of cases. But then again, that depends on where Twitter’s cap kicks in, and how many viewers you have. Basically, you can’t be 100% sure that your ‘Seen by’ listing in your Fleets is 100% accurate, so you shouldn’t necessarily take it as entirely indicative of who’s seen your Fleet. At least, not at this stage.

These are important clarifications for those looking to analyze their Fleet interactions and get a better gauge on what they’re seeing. If you’re a brand looking to maximize your Fleets strategy, it’s worth taking these pointers into account, and factoring them into your data considerations.

We’ll keep you updated if Twitter changes its approach on these fronts. 

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