If tic-tac-toe has taught us anything, it's that Xs and circles cannot peacefully coexist.
X, the app formerly known as Twitter, has shut down the Circles feature, which allowed users to post to a small, exclusive audience. Like an Instagram Close Friends story, Circles -- née Twitter Circles -- offered a more intimate social media experience. In other words, you could overshare about your life to an audience of friends only, rather than the whole internet. And isn't one of the greatest joys of the internet to emotionally shitpost without worrying about the consequences?
But, as the whims of the Circle reminded us, nothing we say on the internet is ever actually free from consequence. The feature worked almost all of the time. Almost. And anything less than 100% efficacy is not ideal for a feature that people used to share private thoughts with trusted friends.
As early as February, some users reported that their Circle tweets were reaching a wider audience than they were supposed to. These glitches showed up again in April, and X (then known as Twitter) apologized for the error in May, marking a rare moment of transparency for the company.
Even when Circle tweets were truly private, they often appeared not to be -- the green banner denoting it as a Circle post only appeared some of the time (I had received some paranoid texts from friends who wondered if I knew I had posted about [redacted] on main, but nope, this was just the glitchy old bird app playing tricks on us).
I can't believe this website is going to take away my most treasured joke: my Twitter circle that only contains Tony Hawk. pic.twitter.com/P9pRF2HTIy
— Giovanni Colantonio (@MarioPrime) October 31, 2023
But perhaps nothing is sadder than the loss of one user's "most treasured joke," in which he posted to a Circle audience consisting only of Tony Hawk, because you could add people who didn't follow you to your Circle. And they could not remove themselves.
Some users have expressed concern that their private musings would be made public, now that Circles are no longer. So far, this doesn't seem to be the case, though you're able to view your own Circle tweets on your profile. But on X, who knows when something will break, so if you have anything salacious up, it might be worth deleting.
It's not clear why X is sunsetting Circles -- perhaps it will come back as a paid benefit, like another beloved feature, TweetDeck (now called X Pro). But users will understandably be annoyed if they have to pay money to X to regain features they used to have for free.