Twitter Lets Tor Service Expire
On Monday, Twitter’s Tor service, which allowed users to access the platform even in countries where it was banned, went down. Twitter's onion site now displays a notification about its expired certification. If you attempt to proceed beyond that point (which is not advised), you’ll be directed to an error page on Twitter. The discontinuation of this service has raised further concerns about the company’s commitment to user privacy and security under Elon Musk.
Pavel Zoneff, director of strategic communications at the Tor Project, the non-profit that runs the online global network, said Twitter has seemingly no plans to renew the certificate. The site’s certificate for its Tor service expired on March 6th, just ahead of its first anniversary.
The Tor Project has told TechCrunch that it has contacted Twitter to explore reviving the social media site’s onion service. “People who rely on onion services for an extra layer of protection and guarantee that they are accessing the content they are looking for now have one fewer way of doing so safely,” Zoneff said. “Let’s be clear, the need for onion services, use of privacy-focused browsers that protect people’s anonymity, and other forms of encryption still persist.”
Twitter launched its Tor service in 2022, shortly after the social media network was blocked in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The Tor network, also called "The Onion Router," applies several layers of encryption to internet traffic and routes it through three random volunteer-operated servers located throughout the world. This makes it nearly impossible to monitor a user’s browsing activity or track their location.
Alec Muffett, the software engineer who played a key role in the launch of the service, stated that the Tor version of Twitter would offer “greater privacy, integrity, trust, and “unblockability” for people all around the world who use Twitter to communicate.”
Twitter’s failure to renew its Tor service is just one privacy concern in a growing list. Key security, privacy, and compliance leaders were all laid off less than two weeks after Musk’s acquisition of the company. In addition, a Twitter whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, alleged of major security deficiencies. Complaints regarding Twitter’s retention of user data have also been hitting the company.
Due to Twitter’s dismantled communications department, the company could not be reached for comment regarding this story.