Twitter is set on Wednesday to launch a service that lets users of the platform send encrypted messages, while the social media company also plans to add voice and video chat capabilities, according to CEO Elon Musk.
In a tweet, Musk said the app’s latest update will include at least two new functions to the platform’s direct messaging, or DM, feature, in addition to introducing encryption for DMs.
“The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if there was a gun to my head,” wrote Musk,.
He added that the update enables users to reply to any message in a DM thread, not just the most recent message in the chat.
The encrypted messaging features “should” become available on Wednesday, Musk said. He did not offer a concrete timeline for launching video and voice calling features, which would allow Twitter users to call others on the platform.
Twitter has previously struggled to deliver on its promises on time, and has sometimes failed to deliver on them at all. In February, for example, Musk said Twitter would split its advertising revenue with content creators, something that has yet to come to fruition. That same month, he also vowed to give developers access to Twitter’s algorithm “next week.” That hasn’t happened yet either.
Calls for privacy
Encryption is the process of protecting sensitive or private data using an algorithm to scramble the information so that only the sender and intended recipient can read it.
The move toward encrypted messaging is generally positive for social media users, said Kohei Kurihara, co-founder of Privacy by Design Lab. But he advises users to be mindful of how that data is stored.
“Users should ask Twitter whether their data is surely protected with end-to-end encryption and ask for transparency to share and secure their own data,” Kurihara told CBS MoneyWatch.
Musk’s plans to implement end-to-end encryption clash with some of the CEO’s previous Twitter policy changes that critics have said undermine security on the site. In March, Twitter eliminated two-factor authentication for all users except those who subscribe to its paid Twitter Blue service, who represent just 0.2% of the platform’s users, reported the Information. The policy change removed an added layer of security from many users’ accounts.
Twitter in April also shows., or verification badges, for celebrities, journalists and other public figures. That led to an increase in accounts impersonating public figures, Twitter’s “Transparency Report”
Twitter’s changes come as some social media users seek greater privacy following a number of high-profile data leaks. In April, Facebook settled allegations that it had improperly disseminated users’ data to third parties such as advertisers and data brokers. Meanwhile, an inquiry conducted by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, revealed last year that TikTok employees had inappropriately accessed the data of TikTok users in the U.S., including journalists.