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Look out, Twitter Circle is exposing private tweets

Twitter Circle launched last summer as a feature that lets you tweet to a specific group of people. In the company’s own words, Twitter Circle allows for “more intimate conversations and [to] build closer connections with select followers.”

But according to multiple reports, some of these private tweets have been reaching the rest of the platform, which, depending on the nature of the content, could result in some rather awkward situations.

A TechCrunch reporter who spotted the error said that on closer analysis, it appears that some tweets intended for Circle are showing up on the algorithmically generated For You timeline for users who follow the poster but who are not part of their Circle. However, in some cases, it appears that Circle posts are getting even wider exposure.

The concerning part is that many Circle users may not know about the error and are therefore continuing to risk having their more private thoughts — and possibly even pictures — viewed by others outside their Circle.

To confirm the existence of the bug, computer security specialist Ian Coldwater made a Twitter Circle with one person in it and waited to see if anyone else on Twitter responded to it. Before long, two people liked the post.

I made a Twitter Circle with one person in it and posted this tweet for science. This was the result. Two people I don't follow saw the tweet & liked it. One of those people doesn't follow me either.

Twitter Circles aren't private. Don't post anything you want private in them.

— Ian Coldwater 📦💥 (@IanColdwater) April 10, 2023

The troubling glitch will only further erode trust in a platform already feeling the pressure after new owner Elon Musk laid off a reported 80% of the company’s workforce in a bid to cut costs.

Losses have included many of the all-important engineers who implement changes and keep the platform ticking over, so it’s likely that the Circle incident — one of many to hit the site in recent months — won’t come as much of a surprise to many in the Twitter community.

Twitter has yet to acknowledge the issue on its Support account, and since Musk’s acquisition, reaching out to the company by email gets you not a written reply but instead a poop emoji. So we’re as confused as you are about what’s gone wrong with Twitter Circle.

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Trevor Mogg
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