When he took over Twitter, Elon Musk envisioned that Twitter’s DM or Direct Messaging system would be one of the best in the world. Musk had planned to revamp the way DMs function on Twitter and place it behind a paywall so that users can subscribe to a set of features.
In a recent all-hands meeting with the employees of Twitter, Musk reiterated the importance of encrypting DMs on Twitter and how a former team member, Moxie Marlinspike, wanted to work on the feature but wasn’t allowed to. He also said, “it should be the case that I can’t look at anyone’s DMs if somebody has put a gun to my head.”
Musk also praised Moxie Marlinspike and said that Twitter would not only start with encryption but, eventually, become a better DMing platform than Signal. Musk also announced that Twitter would partner with Moxie Marlinspike and a few people from Signal to work on their encrypted DMs.
For those who are unaware, Moxie Marlinspike is one of the most prominent cryptographers and computer security researchers in the United States. After his exit from Twitter, he went on to co-found Signal. This end-to-end messaging platform makes it impossible for snooping eyes to read or view messages or photos exchanged between a sender and a receiver.
Over the years, Twitter has kickstarted and then paused building encrypted DMs several times. But now Musk is set on rolling out encryption as a top priority for the vision he calls Twitter 2.0.
The first time around, Moxie Marlinspike wanted to set up encryption for DMs on the platform. However, in 2013, he had to leave Twitter when the platform didn’t let him build the feature set.
In 2018, Twitter again set out to set up encryption for DMs and had even bought a license to use Signal’s tech, but by 2019, Twitter had scrapped the idea again.
American whistleblower Edward Snowden has repeatedly reiterated his faith in the Signal app and says he uses it every day. Snowden has favored the Signal app since its inception and tweeted that he used Signal back in 2015.
Rest assured, if fixing DMs is going to cost Musk substantially, which, from the looks of it, seems plausible, he will be putting it behind a paywall. Whether it is clubbed with the existing Twitter Blue package or paired with a new subscription service remains to be seen.
Leaks aren’t unheard of on Twitter. In 2018, Twitter revealed that unencrypted DMs between brands and their customers were accessible to certain “outside users” for more than one year.