Since his Twitter takeover announcement, Elon Musk has been throwing a lot of ideas at the wall. The introduction of encrypted direct messages from end-to-end to Twitter 2.0 was one of the most lauded but controversial actions.
Will Twitter 2.0 be the first to introduce encrypted messaging by Elon Musk?
Musk tweeted on April 28 that Twitter messages should be encrypted like Signal to prevent anyone from spying or hacking your messages. Musk’s April 28 tweet had 1.4 million likes, and was retweeted over 110,000 times.
It’s not secret that the Forbes Straight Talking team, Kate O’Flaherty, and Zak Daoffman all use the Signal encrypted messaging app. It’s good that Musk is trying to make Twitter’s direct messaging functionality more like Signal. This was the request of an Electronic Frontier Foundation, (EFF), four days before Musk’s announcement. The campaigning group stated in it that “when you send direct messages on Twitter, there’s three parties who can see that message: you and the user to whom it was sent.”
According to the EFF, this means that Twitter can turn them in response to law enforcement requests. It added that they can be leaked and internal access can also be misused by malicious hackers or employees of Twitter.
Privacy is not guaranteed by encrypted messages
One of the concerns that I heard repeatedly on the social network after Musk made it clear he wanted Twitter to be bought was that he would have the ability to read all direct messages. Although end-to-end encryption won’t solve all privacy problems, it could at least soothe those snooping fears.
It cannot provide a private messaging platform that is 100% secure. Anybody with access to your account could read your messages, whether a family member has an unlocked device or a threat actor has compromised the endpoint. It is possible to argue that people may misuse encrypted messaging. This is why it hasn’t been implemented.
Twitter claims that it can “manually examine DMs to investigate reported violations or misuse of our service, as well as to comply with laws and governmental requests.” This is all without considering the restrictions or prohibitions on encrypted platforms.
It remains to see if Musk is willing to give up his vision of a social network that allows free speech in these countries to allow encrypted messaging to all other users. It will be a lot of waiting, I think.