Twitter is testing an innovation that undermines a basic tenet of the service: the ‘Circle’ feature allows tweets to be shared only in a smaller circle.
“Not every tweet is intended for everyone,” Twitter justified the proposal on Tuesday. Twitter Circle makes it easier to have confidential conversations and build closer relationships with a small group. A maximum of 150 users can be added to a ‘circle’.
The feature is reminiscent of the “circles” Google Plus once had. That’s the social network that Google wanted to compete with Facebook and let you share messages with specific circles.
Twitter has always worked so that tweets are basically public and can be seen by all users. There are two exceptions so far: direct messages between users and hidden profiles, with the ability to make all tweets from an account visible only to those allowed by the profile owner.
A tweet shared in a Circle group cannot be retweeted nor shared outside the group. The feature is currently only available to a small group of users worldwide. It is unclear if and when the function will be accessible to everyone.
Twitter is amidst a takeover attempt by tech billionaire Elon Musk, who accused the service of overly restricting freedom of expression on the platform. Musk has agreed with Twitter’s board of directors on a $44 billion deal but is still dependent on enough shareholders to sell him their shares. Twitter and Musk aim to complete the acquisition by the end of the year.