We knew it was coming as it had been showing up in code for months, but this week Twitter’s Circle feature launched in limited public testing.
Circle lets you select up to 150 accounts to tweet things to that no-one else on the platform will see. As we’ve discussed on the Geekout Twitter Space in recent weeks, this is appealing if you, say, want to have a rant about something that is off-brand for the way you otherwise want to project yourself on Twitter, or want to share slightly more personal or sensitive thoughts in a simple way.
But users were quick to raise concerns for how Circle could be misused. Most importantly, it makes organising harassment against other users easy, in a way that is impossible for others to report.
The Verge notes: “As Twitter’s guidelines for the test make clear, just because the public can’t see your tweets doesn’t mean there are no rules. Elon doesn’t own the site yet — you can still get banned for abusive behaviour or other activities that break its rules,” but Twitter hasn’t explained how such behaviour would be detected. I suspect they’re keeping a very close eye on how people use the test.
And then there’s the fact that Circle tweets can be screenshotted like any others and leak out of your Circle, meaning you should be very careful indeed who you let into your Circle and what you share with them.