Experts spoke about why some Twitter users have criticized Fleets, the new feature similar to stories in other apps.
When Twitter’s new stories feature, Fleets, launched Tuesday, some users showed some anger or lack of enthusiasm.
Twitter said it added the feature as a way for users to create posts with less permanence than a tweet, a fleeting thought.
And while users criticized Fleets, a story feature almost identical to what’s available on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and others, those same users started using the feature almost immediately.
While there are valid criticisms of Fleets and how they could be used regarding misinformation and harassment, experts say that the first reaction from users will generally be to resist changes to a site or app that they have become accustomed to, though generally adopt the change as the preferred version of the platform later on.
Hate of change does not go with social networks
Experts said there are many reasons why people have not immediately warmed up with fleets.
While there are likely a lot of people who like the feature, going against the grain in a highly polarized digital world means risking criticism or worse, getting canceled.
“Whether it’s politics or social media articles, people are concerned about speaking out against the prevailing opinion because they are concerned that people will react so harshly in this culture of cancellation,” said Karen North, professor of digital social media at the Annenberg School of the California School of Communication and Journalism.
“While it’s not as strong on things as if you like a Twitter feature, the fact is that the spirit of the age right now is one of hostility toward people with different opinions.”
The fear of being canceled is just one factor as to why so many users may be in line with the opinion that a new feature is bad, but North and other experts say that groupthink, trend, and resistance to change also play a role. big role.
“Social media is inherently prone to trend changes. In fact, this is how social media survives,” said S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects and co-director of the Effects Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University Media.
“Social networks are about being social, which means that you are watching what others do and you follow others and that is why you have metrics such as the number of likes and number of retweets and number of comments,” he added.
“Those are all indicators of the trend.”
Twitter can’t stay static
Sundar said that in addition to this phenomenon, users who are used to an established platform usually rebel when there is a big change to what they are used to, even if it looks like a feature that the person is already using on another platform.
“It kind of robs them of the uniqueness of that platform or their own identity as a Twitter user and they feel like it could be diluting Twitter into a lesser platform if it mimics what they consider to be a more ephemeral platform like Snapchat, which they may not be using as much because of those characteristics, “Sundar said.
Sundar and North agreed that reverse-engineered features on a platform that has been successful elsewhere are generally beneficial to the platform in the long run, even if the user base is resilient.
“Instagram, with all its money from Facebook, has shown us that you can reverse engineer a popular function and people may initially complain, but the ease – the ease of the user experience – of having everything in one place is it becomes very attractive, “said North, referring to how Instagram adapted Snapchat-style stories for its platform.