Twitter’s pending acquisition hasn’t put a freeze on all product testing, as we’ve seen hints of the upcoming edit tweets feature leak out. And, now, the company has announced a limited test for Twitter Circle. It’s a function that’s similar to Instagram’s Close Friends feature or, if you’ve been around for a while, Google Plus.
Twitter Circle will let users pick up to 150 people to join their Circle, including followers and non-followers alike. Then, when they feel like tweeting without sharing to the masses, they simply pull up the Choose Audience menu while writing a tweet and choose Twitter Circle instead of Everyone (as shown below). According to Twitter, this is different from its Communities, which also hide tweets away in an attempt to prevent “context collapse,” because those tie to particular discussions while Circle is just standard tweets that aren’t available for everyone to see.
It’s a way to have similar privacy to a locked account that only appears for people who follow it without restricting yourself to a locked account. People who are currently members of your Circle will be able to see the tweets you post to it, but they can’t use the built-in retweet icon to share them automatically. Of course, that doesn’t stop screenshots or downloads of any content in the tweet, but again, it’s the same as if you had a locked account except it varies based on the tweets you select.
As Twitter’s guidelines for the test make clear, just because the public can’t see your tweets doesn’t mean there are no rules. Elon doesn’t own the site yet — you can still get banned for abusive behavior or other activities that break its rules. The feature has been in the works since at least last year, popping up with “Trusted Friends” and “Facet” branding for the settings, and earlier this year with the name “Flock.”
For now, the chosen few who will have access to Twitter Circle can only create a single Circle, and only the person who creates the Circle can see the list of people that are in it. The feature is available to them across iOS, Android, and the web. If you’re in a Circle, you can’t remove yourself from it, but you can still mute a discussion if it takes up too much of your timeline.