Twitter has launched a version of its site as Tor Onion, improving it for its privacy-protection and censorship-evasion network.
Software engineer Alec Moffitt announced the news on Twitter. The Tor network has also been added to the platform’s supported browsers page.
Twitter is available using the Tor browser or a similar tool.
And while you can access the regular site via Tor, the newly launched version adds more layers of protection to an anonymous browsing experience designed specifically for the network.
It’s a commitment by the platform to treat people who reasonably use Tor, Moffitt said. Setting an Onion address is a practical step that shows the platform explicitly caters to the needs of people who use Tor.
Onion services are sometimes called hidden services. Several websites offer versions of Tor, including the DuckDuckGo search engine, news outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, and ProPublica, and tools such as SecureDrop for receiving secure documents, which also work through Tor.
Maffett, who works with companies to implement Onion sites, tweeted that he has been discussing the possibility of a Tor-compatible version of Twitter since 2014.
It happened when Facebook launched its hidden service, a move designed to fix functional issues for Tor users who are often incorrectly flagged as bot networks.
Facebook said in 2016 that 1 million monthly users were accessing its regular site, or Onion service, through Tor.
Twitter launches Tor compatible version of its site
Tor encrypts web traffic and routes it through a series of servers to mask users’ identifying information. This is a common way to access censored sites. This has made it particularly relevant since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to a crackdown on Russia’s crackdown on Facebook, Twitter, and independent news services.
Some ISPs began censoring Tor in December of 2021. But the Tor Project said the actual level of blocking has changed. Russian users can still connect via the Tor bridge.
Twitter’s Onion has been in the works for much longer and has benefits beyond just access to a banned platform.
Onion forces people to use the Tor network since it doesn’t work with regular browsers. They also protect against some of the security risks presented by standard web addresses.
Having a privileged access path also helps platforms like Facebook and Twitter more easily monitor malicious activities that take advantage of Tor without blocking or weakening the service for users.
Even if most people don’t use Tor to access Twitter, this is an improvement for those who use it, and a move toward greater acceptance of the system.