Twitter Circles and Privacy

| Sep 1, 2022
A picture of the Twitter navigation menu.

Social Media

Jeremy Bezanger @ unsplash

The New Craze?

Twitter have just introduced a new feature to the platform, called ‘Twitter Circles’. The concept behind this feature is that you can select certain people to be in your ‘circle’, and you have the option of tweeting content that only they can see. This means that if you haven’t added someone to your circle, they won’t be able to see the tweet on their timeline, even if they follow you.

Circles Aren’t Necessarily a ‘Walled Garden’

So how does it work exactly?

A user can add you to a circle and you’ll see any tweets that they’ve marked as for their circle only. You can be added to a circle, even if you don’t follow the user that created it and you cannot remove yourself from a circle unless you either unfollow, block or mute the user that created the circle. In a way, it’s similar to having a ‘protected’ account on Twitter, but only for certain tweets. If you have a user in your ‘circle’ and they have common members within their own circle, they can also see any replies made by the user in your circle.

An example would be:

  • You have User A (following you) and User B (not following you) in your circle.
  • You post a tweet about a more-personal matter and share it with your circle.
  • User A has user B in their circle as well.
  • User B can see the reply to your tweet about said personal matter because they are in both circles.

Be Careful What You Post

Twitter have designed the system so that if you tweet something to your circle, it can’t be retweeted by other users; However, this doesn’t stop somebody from copy/pasting or screenshotting your tweet.

As @yuhoui rightly states - You should always assume that whenever you post something online (whether ‘privately’ or not) that it can be seen by anybody.