The Twitter that we see today is almost unrecognizable from the one that Elon Musk bought for $44 billion in late 2022 and now the social network has launched a new feature that was promised way back then — encrypted direct messages.
The new encrypted DMs have now gone live for the first time with people able to choose whether they actually want to use it when creating a new thread. What’s more, they can also choose to send an encrypted message via a thread that was previously unencrypted.
And it’s all live now—assuming you’re willing to pay for it.
No encryption for you
Twitter has a new support page (opens in new tab) that explains how encrypted DMs work, and while it’s very wordy it does do its best at getting the job done. “Twitter seeks to be the most trusted platform on the internet, and encrypted Direct Messages are an important part of that,” the page starts.
It then sets out the plan. “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,” the page continues before admitting that it isn’t “quite there yet.” Still, encrypted messages are here.
However, they’re only available if both the sender and recipient of the DM happen to be verified. That could mean they’re part of a verified organization or, more likely, that they’re paying for Twitter Blue.
As for how it’s encrypted, Twitter’s explanation is that it will “generate a pair of device specific keys, called private and public key pair.” It goes on, adding that “the public key is automatically registered when a user logs into Twitter on a new device or browser; the private key never leaves the device and therefore is never communicated to Twitter.”
From there, we learn that there’s also “a per conversation key that is used to encrypt the content of messages. The private-public key pairs are used to exchange the conversation key securely between participating devices.”
Of course, none of that matters if you aren’t paying for Twitter, and, if reports (opens in new tab) are true, few people actually are.