Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, announced the termination of the Circles feature, effective from 31 October 2023. Launched back in May when X used to be Twitter, the Circles feature allowed users to restrict their posts to a selected audience.
The feature aimed to foster closer conversations on the app, but it didn’t gain the popularity developers anticipated. On July 8, 2023, Musk tweeted that the company would shift its focus to enhancing Communities & DM group chat.
Circles’ Original Aim
Upon its launch in August 2022, Circles provided a private space for posts. Much like Instagram’s Close Friends feature, Circles allowed users to send posts to a select group of up to 150 people.
Users could freely modify this group by adding or removing accounts, determining who saw their content. Even for public accounts, Circle tweets stayed private, and any replies to them stayed confidential too. The platform aimed to boost user activity, which would result in more tweets, likes, and interactions.
Issues Faced by Circles
A few months into its introduction, privacy concerns around Circles surfaced. In April, reports indicated that unintended audiences saw users’ private Circle posts.
In certain cases, accounts outside a user’s Circle liked posts meant for a select group, which brought up questions about the feature’s reliability.
A specific instance included a former Twitch engineer who found multiple accounts liking a private post, even though they weren’t in his Circle.
X previously acknowledged a software glitch that inadvertently revealed the private posts of users to unauthorised followers and even strangers.
People noticed private Circle posts on the “For You” timeline, which made them visible to those outside the intended Circle.
X termed this as a “security incident” and confirmed that corrective measures were taken promptly to ensure such posts remained within the designated Circle.
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Circles’ Closure and Steps Ahead
If users want to keep contacts from their Circle, they need to take a few actions. First, they log in to the official X website. Then, they navigate to the desired account in their Circle and select unfollow.
This action ensures the account is removed from the Circle and restricts it from viewing past Circle posts. Users can then choose to re-follow the account; however, the account won’t be added back to the Circle.
Moving On from Legacy Features
After Musk took control of the platform, he introduced many changes. He rebranded Twitter as X, replaced the iconic blue bird logo with a single letter design, and stripped blue ticks from formerly verified accounts, leaving his imprint on the platform.
The discontinuation of Circles is another step away from the platform’s previous features, signifying a shift in X’s direction and focus.
X has decided to terminate the Circles feature, a move that might surprise some, but it aligns with their recent decisions. Since Musk took over, X has seen many significant changes, and this is merely one of them.
Each change is a reflection of the platform’s reaction to user behaviour, feedback, and broader digital trends. Although, a lot of decisions are mainly driven by its new owner’s personal reasons and visions for the app.
It would be interesting to see which features will be removed or added next, in the future.