Twitter Scraps Plans to Encrypt Direct Messages

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 12:40 PM

By Aaron Stern

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Twitter has abandoned plans to encrypt its private messaging system.

The New York Times reported in October that Twitter had begun developing an encryption system for the direct messages its users send to one another in an effort to make it harder for spying agencies to access private data without a court order.

That project was reportedly started in response to the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, but Twitter has since abandoned the initiative, according to The Verge.

Twitter’s vast social media platform is largely public, but users can send each other private messages that no one else is supposed to be able to see. The Times reported last year that Twitter disdains the government’s surveillance program, and was among a handful of tech companies to resist requests for information that were made as a part of the NSA’s PRISM program.

Though Twitter hasn’t said why it pulled the plug on the project that would encrypt those private messages, The Verge speculates it isn’t because the social media giant has changed its stance on user privacy but may instead be because Twitter is considering other far-reaching changes in its platform and isn’t sure where the its encryption plans fit into future systems.

Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that other privacy-centric social media apps and platforms like Confide, Wickr, and Glympse are emerging to cater to users wary of unwittingly sharing their personal information with the government.

And while Twitter is apparently no longer pursuing the previously reported project, Business Insider says Twitter is enhancing the privacy of its platform in other ways and has since January been encrypting the email it sends to its users.

Twitter isn’t the only tech company that the NSA has covertly targeted. The Verge reported last year that the government secretly obtained information from the likes of Google, Yahoo and AOL, gathering data that could have stayed secret if it had been encrypted.

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