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Twitter Working on Enhancing DM security

It's possible that Elon Musk would lead Twitter in restarting a project that would provide end-to-end cryptography to its Direct Messages platform. This would be an exciting development.

Photo by Boris Smokrovic / Unsplash

According to some newly discovered code, Twitter may restart its work on direct encrypted messages.

It's possible that Elon Musk would lead Twitter in restarting a project that would provide end-to-end cryptography to its Direct Messages platform. This would be an exciting development.

According to investigative journalist Jane Manchun Wong, who discovered the changes to Twitter's code, it seems as though work has restarted on the functionality in the most recent version of the Android app.

Jane Manchun Wong made the discovery. Although Elon Musk has lately expressed interest in making direct messages on Twitter more private, Twitter has since abandoned its earlier attempts in this field after testing an encrypted "secret talks" feature in 2018.

It's Not New at Twitter

If Twitter had introduced the encrypted direct messages functionality, it would have been able to compete more effectively against other secure messaging networks, such as Signal and WhatsApp.

However, work on the project halted, and Twitter never commented on why, nor did it explain why it had never remarked on the prototype that Wong discovered being built in the app years ago.

Wong now claims that she has seen work done on encrypted DM's resume. She tweeted a screenshot of Twitter's code, in which there is a reference to encryption keys and how they are used in end-to-end encrypted discussions.

The app says that the "Chat key" is a number formed by the user's encryption keys based on the conversation in another screenshot, which also shows a "Conversation key."

The message states that the end-to-end encryption will be successful if the number matches the one stored in the recipient's phone.

Musk replied with a winking face emoji in response to Wong's tweets; this can be interpreted as an apparent confirmation, or at the very least as what passes for one in this day and age, given that Twitter has since laid off its communications staff and no longer respond to requests for comment from reporters.

End-to-end encryption is a technology that should not be pushed out of the gate. This is in contrast to some of the other projects that Musk's Twitter is working on, such as a relaunch of the Twitter Blue membership that is scheduled to come out later this month.

It is Not So Easy THough

For instance, it took Meta many years to completely implement end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in Messenger after the company began testing the features for the first time in 2016. It wasn't until the summer of this year that Meta finally announced that it would extend its E2EE test to include individual Messenger chats.

The company claimed that the launch delay was partly due to the need to address concerns raised by child safety experts. These activists had previously warned that the changes could prevent abusers from being discovered.

Meta also planned to make use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to search the unencrypted portions of its platform, such as user profiles and photographs, for additional signals that could point to criminal activity.(1)

In addition, it needed to verify that its abuse-reporting capabilities would continue to function normally in an E2EE setting.

In a nutshell, in addition to the technical labor necessary to implement E2EE itself, other complicating aspects should be considered. If Musk were to introduce direct encrypted messages quickly, it would raise questions about the safety and quality of the feature's construction.

Moreover, as a result of Twitter's recent workforce reduction of fifty percent and the departure of key staff members, such as chief information security officer Lea Kissner, who'd comprehend the cryptological obstacles of such a project, it is unclear whether the team left has the knowledge and experience to tackle such a complicated feature in the first place.

Turning Twitter Into a Super App

Musk, on the other hand, recently stated that "the goal of Twitter DMs is to superset Signal," indicating that he appears to believe encryption is the appropriate approach for Twitter's direct message (DM) offering.

And in response to a user's inquiry about whether Twitter would acquire a telecommunications company or become a successor for WhatsApp, Musk just stated that "X will be the everything app."

Musk's intention to turn Twitter into a "super app" that would incorporate payments, social networking, entertainment, and other features into a single unified experience is what " X " means in this context.

The previous week, he elaborated on his intentions for the payments section, stating that Twitter would one day enable users to retain cash balances, make money transfer, and even offer high-yield money market accounts. He made these statements during an interview that took place the week before.