Surprise! Elon Musk’s encrypted Twitter DMs feature will cost you dear

Maybe spending $0 on Signal would be wiser instead.

Surprise! Elon Musk's encrypted Twitter DMs feature will cost you dear

Elon Musk may have fired many of the staff in Twitter’s Trust & Safety division after purchasing the company in October 2022, but for over a year he has been saying how Twitter DMs should support end-to-end encryption like Signal.

As far back as 2014, Twitter was toying with the idea of introducing encryption to prevent hackers, overbearing governments, or even Twitter itself from snooping on users’ private conversations – but the security feature had never seen the light of day.

And then, late last week, encrypted direct messages finally arrived on Twitter

…although not for most Twitter users…

…because Elon Musk had decided that only users who pay the $8 per-month Twitter Blue subscription for a “verified” account, can have it…

…and not if the messages contained images, movies, or other attachments…

…and not metadata such as who you were sending the message to, or its creation time…

…and not if the message was being sent to a user who hadn’t ponied up for their own Twitter Blue subscription…

…and then there’s this, in Twitter’s own words:

“As Elon Musk said, when it comes to Direct Messages, the standard should be, if someone puts a gun to our heads, we still can’t access your messages. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re working on it.”


So, this isn’t actually end-to-end encryption at all.

Because, E2E encrypted messages can only be read by the sender and the receiver. But, for now at least, Twitter will still be able to read your messages.

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I don’t think this is a feature I would pay for. And it’s certainly no competition for other E2E encrypted messaging services like Signal, which are free.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

One comment on “Surprise! Elon Musk’s encrypted Twitter DMs feature will cost you dear”

  1. Derek

    Wait, the guy who effectively killed US high speed rail and who thinks that sedans in a tube is the ideal form of mass transit also thinks people should spend more time commuting? You'd think he owns a car company or something.

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