February 3, 2023

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Elon Musk says Twitter will encrypt DMs, add video and voice calls

Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, has publicly expressed his desire to improve the way the social network’s direct messages work. In a conversation with employees today, he specified exactly what that looks like.

Framed by presentation slides titled “Twitter 2.0” at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters Monday, Musk told employees the company will be encrypting DMs and working to add encrypted video and voice calling between accounts, according to a recording of the meeting. received by The Verge.

“We want to enable users to communicate without having to worry about their privacy. [or] without worrying about a data breach at Twitter causing all of their DMs to go online, or thinking that maybe someone at Twitter could be spying on their DMs,” Musk said. “Of course it’s not going to be cool and it’s happened a few times.”

Musk is correct that DMs were revealed beforehand. 2018, Twitter warned that an undisclosed number of DMs between companies and their customers had been open to outsiders for over a year. And earlier this year, the US government accused a former employee of abusively accessing user data on behalf of Saudi Arabia, although it is unclear how DMs were or were not used.

“It should be so that I can’t look at anyone’s DMs if someone put a gun to my head.”

Over the years, Twitter has started and then paused building encrypted DMs several times. But now Musk is determined to introduce encryption as a top priority for the vision he calls Twitter 2.0. “It should be like that if someone put a gun to my head, I can’t look at anyone’s DMs,” he told staffers Monday.

“Ironically, Moxie Marlinspike worked at Twitter a few years ago and actually wanted to do encrypted DMs, [but] was denied and then went and created signal,” Musk said. (For the curious, The Wall Street Journal has a 2015 report detailing Marlinspike’s time on Twitter.)

Musk went on to say that “we also want the ability to have voice and video chats via DMs.” He acknowledged that Signal requires sharing a phone number to start a thread, and that Twitter’s account system allows for secure calls “so you don’t have to give anyone your phone number.” Signal has said since 2020 that it’s also working to stop relying on phone numbers, though it hasn’t rolled out that capability yet.

I would reach out to Twitter for comment on what Musk said about encrypting DMs, but the company no longer has a communications department.