We all know social media has its problems -- Instagram is fake, Twitter fosters cancel culture, Facebook is mostly irrelevant, etc. – but their problems are all unique. I don’t go to Instagram to read witty captions any more than I log into Twitter to see pictures of my friend’s new sourdough starter.
Apparently, Twitter didn’t get that memo. On Nov. 17, Twitter rolled out a new feature: Twitter Fleets, a story feature for “fleeting thoughts.” In case that sounds familiar but you just can’t quite place it, it’s a complete knock-off of Instagram stories and, if you haven’t logged into your Facebook account for nearly a decade like most of us, a concept Facebook poached in 2017.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the concept. In fact, I’ve found Instagram stories insanely useful for sharing temporary posts, advertising events (pre-COVID-19 of course) or broadcasting a “happy birthday.”
My problem is with the homogenizing of social media.
Whether or not you believe specific apps attract a specific type of person, you do have to acknowledge that they serve different purposes. Just look at the formatting!
Twitter is predominantly set up for sharing words (though you can still post pictures or videos), Instagram is typically for uploading visual media (though you can get creative in the captions as well) and Snapchat users send disappearing pictures and texts either to individuals, private groups or public stories.
It makes sense from a marketing standpoint for one app to try to leech off of another's user base by introducing features that would appeal to them – like disappearing stories – but, by doing so, these apps are all becoming more and more similar.
Have you ever logged onto Facebook and seen the same post you just saw on Instagram, and then logged onto Twitter and realized the same post is there, too? No? Yeah, just wait.
Perhaps the most ironic part of the social media "story" concept is the continuous inability to get it right.
Despite several other apps already offering the feature, Twitter still faced major issues after rolling it out last week; according to the Independent, users faced lagging, freezing and crashing following the introduction of "Fleets."
If they’re going to make all these apps identical, they should at least show some common courtesy and make them functional.
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old classical studies senior from New Orleans.