Twitter users are having a love-hate relationship with the recently introduced disappearing content feature called Fleets. Some find it a welcome new thing to play around with on the platform while some find it an unnecessary distraction that’s a little late to the game. But like it or love it, it seems to be there to stay, at least for now. But less than a week after it rolled out for all its users, there seems to be a bug that is making the supposedly fleeting tweets not totally disappear.
To be clear, while your Fleet may disappear from your account after 24 hours, Twitter actually keeps it in its server for up to 30 days and maybe even longer for those that violate rules. The fleet is stored in the Twitter Data download of the user as long as it’s on Twitter’s servers. But it should not be accessible by other people after the fleet has already expired. It looks like a bug is making others still see it and even be downloaded and it will not tell you someone has done so.
But Tech Crunch reveals that there’s a bug that lets an app that interacts with Twitter’s backend through its developer API is able to still access fleets that have supposedly elapsed already. Each fleet has its own direct URL that opens as an image or a video. The app is supposed to be able to scrape fleets form public accounts on Twitter but it shouldn’t be able to do so after the fleet has disappeared from public view.
For its part, Twitter said they are aware of this bug that has made the expired tweets accessible through this “technical workaround”. They said they are working on a fix which will roll out to Twitter soon but as of this writing, it looks like the API is still able to load fleets from the direct URLs. We don’t know how long that supposedly “rolled out shortly” is going to be so it’s best users are aware of their fleets coming back to haunt them.
It’s not really a major thing of course and we don’t know what percentage of Twitter users are even using fleets. But for something that will supposedly be ephemeral, having it exist somewhere for more than 24 hours may not be such a good look on Twitter.