X is shutting down feature to send posts to select people after privacy concern

X is shutting down Circles months after some users flagged glitches with the privacy-focused tool that lets users send posts to a select audience.

The Elon Musk-owned company that was earlier called Twitter said on Thursday that Circles will be disabled by 31 October.

“After this date, you will not be able to create new posts that are limited to your Circle, nor will you be able to add people to your Circle,” X wrote in a post.

“You will, however, be able to remove people from your Circle, by unfollowing them,” the company said.

Once unfollowed, users previously part of one’s Circle “can no longer see your past Circle Posts,” it said.

The feature – similar to Instagram’s Close Friends stories – was officially launched in August 2022 when the platform was called Twitter, and before the Tesla billionaire took over the company.

“Twitter Circle is a way to send Tweets to select people, and share your thoughts with a smaller crowd,” the company had said after the feature’s launch.

“You choose who’s in your Twitter Circle, and only the individuals you’ve added can reply to and interact with the Tweets you share in the circle,” it had then said.

Then in April, a software glitch exposed the private posts of some users to other followers and strangers not part of their Circle, sparking widespread privacy concern.

Users began noticing their private Circle posts began appearing on the algorithmically generated “For You” timeline, meaning these posts were being noticed by people outside the intended audience.

In some cases, users noticed their Circle posts were even reaching people who don’t even follow them.

In emails sent to affected users, X said a “security incident” was behind the public display of their Circle tweets, adding that the issue was “immediately fixed” so these posts were no longer visible outside of the user’s Circle.

“We’ve conducted a thorough investigation to understand how this occurred and have addressed this issue,” the company said.

“We understand the risks that an incident like this can introduce and we deeply regret this happened,” it said at the time.

The software bug added to the number of issues that plagued Twitter following Mr Musk’s takeover of the company and the multibillionaire laying off nearly two-thirds of its workforce.

The glitch was likely due to the platform’s recommendation algorithm likely failing to filter out Circle posts before sharing them with others on the site, former Twitter engineer Theo Browne told TechCrunch at the time.

Now, in a new update, X said in a post that it is “deprecating Circles as of Oct 31st, 2023”, without delving into why the company is shutting down the feature.