Twitter Circles Made Semi-Private Tweets Public

Twitter Circles is leaking, with users reporting that posts meant for a limited audience are instead being pushed out to millions of strangers. You should always think twice before you tweet, but it’s a good idea to be extra cautious now, Mashable reported.

According to Mashable, Twitter Circles was introduced in 2022. Its a feature that (when it’s working) allows you to restrict certain tweets to a carefully curated list of pre-approved followers. It’s a useful tool for people who would like to vent about their partner, scream about K-pop idols, or share some tasteful nudes, but don’t necessarily want their ramblings seen by the wider public.

Unfortunately, an apparent bug has resulted in Twitter Circles tweets appearing in the For You feeds of users who weren’t given access to them. In some cases, these users weren’t even following the original poster. It’s an unexpected and alarming violation if privacy for anyone who trusted Twitter’s assurances that only approved Twitter Circle members can see these posts.

Gizmodo reported that if you are a regular Twitter Circles user, you should probably stop posting things you wouldn’t want seen by the wider public. Numerous tweeters are reporting that their supposedly private Twitter Circle posts are accessible to the whole Twittersphere, letting their more private thoughts or pics loose on the wider community.

According to Gizmodo, since at least this past weekend, multiple Twitter users have reported strangers being able to read and even like their private tweets. Users not in these circles have recently been able to sometimes see and then interact with these tweets.

Gizmodo could not independently confirm that Circles was broken, but multiple other users all seemed to have the same problem, where Circles tweets appeared in non-followers “For you” tabs.

BuzzFeed News reported that when Twitter Circles launched in August 2022, it promised users “the flexibility to choose who you can see and engage with their content on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis.”

The ability to limit posts’ access to a small number of people “makes it easier to have more intimate conversations with select followers,” the company said in a blog post announcing the feature. Among the voices praising Circles in the post was Belong To, which supports young LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. The group hailed the feature for putting “power into the hands of people on Twitter by creating a new way for them to control how they show up online and feels safe expressing themselves,” BuzzFeed News reported.

According to BuzzFeed News, eight months and one ownership change later, Circles’ secure functionality appears to have broken. A number of users are publicly warning those who use the feature that their supposedly secure posts – oftentimes nudes – are leaching into the main For You feed, the algorithmically driven homepage of Twitter.

I have never used Twitter Circles, but it is clear that many other people do use it. In my opinion, Twitter should immediately fix this problem and prevent people’s Twitter Circles content from ending up in the For You feed (where strangers can access it). That said, both Gizmodo and Mashable reported that trying to reach out for a comment from Elon Musk results in a poop emoji response.