How coded direct messages work in X, formerly Twitter

A view of the Twitter logos (i) and its new name “X” (d), seen on mobile phone screens, on July 27, 2023. EFE/Etienne Laurent

X (the social network formerly known as Twitter) announced a new feature in May that allows users to encrypt their direct messages, albeit with some limitations.. This feature protects users’ conversations from being seen only by them.

The app had abandoned this security option in 2018, but after the arrival of Elon Musk It has been resumed so that we can increase security on the social network.

“We use a combination of strong encryption schemes to encrypt all messages, links and reactions that are part of an encrypted conversation before they leave the sender’s device and remain encrypted while stored in Twitter’s infrastructure. Once messages are received by recipient devices, they are decrypted so the user can read them. The social network reported how this feature works.

In order to use the function, users must fulfill the following conditions: both the sender and the recipient must have the updated version of the Twitter app in iOS, Android and Web version; The sender and recipient must be verified users or be a verified organization; Finally, the recipient must follow the sender, have previously messaged the sender, or accept a Direct Message request from the sender.

The encrypted message is transmitted in a manner similar to the normal unencrypted message. If the user has this option, it will show a padlock after clicking the message icon to enable the “encrypted” mode. You must select an eligible recipient, compose a message, and click send.

There is an encrypted message icon in the upper right corner.

In addition, an encrypted message can be sent via the chat settings page for unencrypted chat. To do this, you have to access an unencrypted conversation from the inbox, touch the info icon, and finally select Start encrypted message.

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The social network uses strong encryption to encrypt every message, link, and direct reaction contained in a conversation before a DM is sent from the device.. The encryption remains in effect while the message is stored by Twitter and is decrypted once it is received by the recipient.

From a technical perspective, X generates device-specific keys called public-private key pairs. The public key is set automatically when you log into a new device or browser. The private key never leaves the hardware and is therefore not shared with X.

However, there are some drawbacks to implementing encrypted messages. sOnly certain types of messages and content can be encrypted. Group chats are excluded, though X said it’s encrypting them, too.. Any message you want to encrypt can only contain text and links. Direct message with media or other types of attachments is not supported.

X also can’t protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, such as a malicious insider trying to access an encrypted conversation. However, the social network said it is working on a way to guard against this scenario in the future.

The implementation of encrypted X Messages follows other social networking services and platforms that already offer end-to-end encryption for their messages, such as Apple’s Signal, WhatsApp, iMessages, and Telegram.

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Lovell Loxley

"Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader."

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