Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has stated publicly his goal to improve the social network’s direct messaging. In a meeting with colleagues today, he detailed exactly what that entails.
According to a tape of the meeting acquired by The Verge, Musk informed staff at Twitter’s San Francisco offices on Monday that the firm will encrypt DMs and strive to add encrypted video and voice calls between accounts, framed by presentation slides labelled “Twitter 2.0.”
“We want to enable users to be able to communicate without being concerned about their privacy, [or] without being concerned about a data breach at Twitter causing all of their DMs to hit the web, or think that maybe someone at Twitter could be spying on their DMs,” Musk said. “That’s obviously not going to be cool and it has happened a few times before.”
Musk is correct about DMs being disclosed previously. In 2018, Twitter issued a warning that an unspecified number of direct messages (DMs) between businesses and their consumers had been available to outsiders for more than a year. In addition, the US government prosecuted an ex-employee earlier this year with inappropriately obtaining user data on behalf of Saudi Arabia, though it’s unclear how DMs were or were not utilised.
Twitter has started and then stopped implementing encrypted direct messages multiple times over the years. Musk, on the other hand, has made encryption a primary goal for his Twitter 2.0 agenda. “If there’s a gun to my head, I shouldn’t be able to peek at anyone’s DMs,” he told colleagues on Monday.
He then praised Signal, an encrypted communication software run as a non-profit. He stated that he spoke with its founder, Moxie Marlinspike, who is now “possibly willing to assist out” with encrypting Twitter direct messages.
“Ironically, Moxie Marlinspike worked at Twitter and actually wanted to do encrypted DMs several years ago, [but] was denied that and then went and created Signal,” Musk said.
Musk went on to say that “we also want to have the ability to do voice and video chat via DMs.” He admitted that starting a thread on Signal needs the exchange of a phone number and that, owing to its account structure, Twitter can support encrypted calling “so that you don’t have to give someone your phone number.” Signal has said since 2020 that it is trying to transition away from reliance on phone numbers, yet this capability has yet to be implemented.