Technology

Elon Musk: Twitter to encrypt DMs, adds video, voice chat

Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has made no secret of his desire to revamp the social network platform’s direct messaging features. He laid out the specifics in today’s meeting with staff.

On Monday, a recording of an internal Twitter meeting was obtained by NewsXtra. In the meeting, Musk is heard saying that the company will encrypt direct messages and work to add encrypted video and voice calling between accounts.

Musk has stated that the company’s goal is to allow users to “communicate without worrying about their privacy, [or] without worrying that a data breach at Twitter will cause all of their DMs to hit the web.” Not only is that not cool, but it’s happened before.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is correct in saying that DMs have been exposed before. An unspecified number of direct messages (DMs) exchanged between businesses, and their customers were viewable by third parties for over a year, Twitter warned in 2018. In addition, an ex-employee was charged by the US government earlier this year with illegally accessing user data on behalf of Saudi Arabia; it is unknown whether or not direct messages were involved.

Several times over the years, Twitter has begun developing encrypted direct messages, only to halt it and return to it later. But now Musk is committed to implementing encryption as a central part of his vision for Twitter 2.0. On Monday, he informed his staff that he would not read their direct messages under any circumstances, including when someone was holding a gun to his head.

He then went on to extol the virtues of Signal, an open-source encrypted messaging app. He claimed to have talked to the app’s creator, Moxie Marlinspike, who is “potentially willing to help out” encrypting Twitter direct messages.

When asked about the origins of Signal, Musk said, “Ironically, Moxie Marlinspike worked at Twitter and wanted to do encrypted DMs several years ago [but] was denied that.” The Wall Street Journal has an article from 2015 that describes Marlinspike’s time at Twitter (if you’re interested).

Later, Musk added, “we also want to have the ability to do voice and video chat via DMs.” In contrast to Signal, which necessitates exchanging a phone number to initiate a conversation, he admitted that Twitter’s account system makes it possible to make secure calls “so that you don’t have to give someone your phone number.” Even though Signal has promised to eliminate the need for phone numbers since 2020, the feature has yet to be implemented.