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Twitter tests new feature that makes your words disappear

The social network is experimenting with ephemeral content in Brazil.

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Twitter is exploring a way to share content that vanishes in 24 hours. 

James Martin/CNET

Twitter said Wednesday that it's testing a feature that'll let users post text, photos and video that vanish in 24 hours, a tool meant to encourage people to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts online. 

Sharing ephemeral content is popular on other social media sites, such as Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram, so it isn't surprising Twitter is giving it a try. Even the business-oriented social network LinkedIn is testing a way to share posts that disappear. 

Twitter said it's calling the new feature "fleets." The company is testing the tool in Brazil, so unless you're in that country, you won't be able to see or create ephemeral content. The tool will roll out this week for Brazilian iPhone and Android users. 

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A Snapchat-like feature called fleets will appear at the top of a user's timeline. 

Twitter

If Twitter eventually adopts the feature globally, the tool could also pave the way for new types of ads, like the ones already on Instagram and Snapchat. On the other hand, fleets could make it more challenging to moderate hate speech, bullying and other offensive content, partly because of the time limit. And it's not clear if this feature would take off as it has on other social networks. Tweets already flow through the site quickly, making users feel like they're reading fleeting thoughts in real time. 

Accessing the feature, users will see a circle with their profile picture and a plus sign on the lower right-hand corner. When they click on the plus sign, they'll be able to type text and add videos, GIFs or photos like they do in a tweet. There'll also be a 280-character limit. In 24 hours, the content will vanish. Unlike tweets, users won't be able to retweet, like or reply publicly to these posts, but there'll be a way to report fleets that violate Twitter's rules. Users can also react to these fleets by sending an emoji or direct message on Twitter. Fleets from people you follow will appear in your timeline. 

"People have told us in early research that because Fleets disappear, they feel more willing to share casual, everyday thoughts," Twitter Group Product Manager Mo Al Adham said in a blog post. "We hope that people who don't usually feel comfortable tweeting use Fleets to share musings about what's on their mind."

Twitter users have expressed hesitation about sharing their thoughts on the social network.

"My draft folder is full of funny tweets I'm afraid to tweet," wrote Twitter user Will Rogers over the weekend.

Twitter declined to say how many users it has in Brazil. The company hasn't said when it might start rolling out this feature in the US, but testing will likely take several months. 

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