X, formally Twitter, has announced plans to retire its Circles feature on October 31st, 2023. Circles allowed users to restrict tweet visibility to only accounts added to a custom Circle. The removal raises privacy concerns around past tweets shared using the soon-to-be defunct tool.
Circles Allowed Per-Tweet Access Controls
Circles enabled granular control over individual tweet visibility beyond just public or locked accounts. Users could create Circles and designate specific tweets to be viewable only by accounts within assigned Circles.
But Twitter has not clarified what will occur to previously Circles-protected tweets after the feature shuts down. This ambiguity has sparked fears of potential unintended exposure.
Tweets Previously Restricted Could Be Accidentally Exposed
Without Circles, Twitter will lack a per-tweet privacy control. Users’ only options will be public tweets or locking down their entire account.
Cybersecurity experts warn former Circles users should prepare for the possibility of once restricted tweets unintentionally becoming public. Sensitive disclosures around health or other topics may be visible.
Downloading Twitter Data Recommended to Identify Risks
Experts advise those who utilized Circles to download their Twitter data to identify tweets that may be impacted. This provides a checklist of what to manually delete to prevent public visibility after Circles disappears.
Users wanting to permanently keep Circles-protected tweets could save an archive and manually remove the versions still on Twitter.
Overall, the abrupt removal of Circles leaves major questions around legacy tweets shared using the feature. Twitter has not assured what policies, if any, will maintain former tweet restrictions. Users should audit past Circles usage to determine privacy risks.