If you use Twitter Circles often, you probably shouldn’t post things that you wouldn’t want the general public to see.
A lot of tweeters say that posts they thought were private on Twitter Circle are visible to everyone on Twitter. This means that their more private thoughts or pictures are now out in the wider community.
Multiple Twitter users have said that strangers have been able to read and even like their private tweets since at least the weekend.
When Twitter Circles came out in August of last year, users could send tweets to a small, select group of people. Users who aren’t in these circles are now sometimes able to see and respond to these tweets.
Ian Coldwater, an information security engineer, also posted screenshots showing that some people who weren’t in their Circles group could like their tweets.
Even though it’s a good rule of thumb to keep private information off of public networks, some Twitter users may post private information thinking that it will stay private.
They aren’t the only ones who agree with this. Theo Browne, a former Twitch engineer, wrote that a friend who wasn’t in his circle liked a tweet that friend shouldn’t have been able to see. His test showed that many people he didn’t follow were able to see the Circles post and like it.
Browne told TechCrunch on Monday that it didn’t look like Twitter was filtering private content before putting it in the “For you” feeds of its users.
He said that some of his Circles tweets were seen by people he wasn’t even following. Twitter tried to make “For you,” which is based on an algorithm, the default setting on the app, but they quickly changed their minds.
Gizmodo couldn’t confirm on its own that Circles was broken, but many other users seemed to be having the same problem, where tweets from Circles showed up in the “For you” tabs of people who didn’t follow them.
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. pic.twitter.com/p5uzlmIkuJ
— Ian Coldwater 📦💥 (@IanColdwater) April 10, 2023
BuzzFeed also used quotes from other Twitter users who said that replies to other people’s Circles tweets seem to be taken into account by Twitter’s algorithm. Another user said that at least one person they didn’t follow saw some “risqué” photos they posted to their Circles.
When you try to contact Twitter’s PR team, you get a “poop” emoji instead. After the company made some of its source code public last month, Twitter’s engineering team said on Saturday that it had changed the site’s algorithm.
It is said that these changes made the algorithm give much more weight to replies and clicks than it did before. It’s not clear if these changes broke Circles in any way, but users reported problems with Circles on Friday, before these changes were made public.
The feature has been broken before, but this is the first time that users say they can see posts that should only be seen by their private community. Users have told TechCrunch in the past that they don’t see the green banner that should show up with a Circles tweet.
Users have said that the platform has been having other major problems as of late. Some users have noticed that their tweets are starting to disappear from their feeds. As part of the huge number of layoffs made by owner Elon Musk, the engineering department was especially decimated.
Still, some problems that at first seemed to be bugs were actually made on purpose. Last week, Twitter users had trouble getting to Substack links.
Musk chose Matt Taibbi to be one of the Twitter Files spokespeople, and he almost confirmed that Substack’s Twitter-like Notes feature hurt links. Musk later said that Substack was trying to “download a huge part of the Twitter database” and that Taibbi was a “employee” of Substack. Both claims were denied by Chris Best, the CEO of Substack, who said, “This is very frustrating.”