Twitter is creating a Tor onion service, which will optimize the site for the privacy-protecting and censorship-avoiding network. Alec Muffett, a software programmer, shared the news on Twitter, calling it “probably the most significant and long-awaited tweet I’ve ever composed.” Tor has also been added to Twitter’s list of supported browsers.
When using Tor Browser or a similar tool, you can access Twitter’s onion service. While you could already use Tor to view Twitter’s regular website, the newly unveiled version adds further levels of security to the already anonymous browsing experience and is tailored to the network.
“It’s a promise from the platform to treat people who use Tor fairly,” Muffett said in a Twitter direct message to The Verge. “Creating an onion address is a practical move that proves that the platform is expressly catering to Tor users’ demands,” he added.
Hidden services or “dark web” services are terms used to describe onion services, but the latter term usually refers to clearly illicit sites like the Silk Road drug market. The DuckDuckGo search engine, as well as news outlets including The New York Times, the BBC, and ProPublica, all have Tor-specific versions. Tor is also used by tools like SecureDrop to accept secure files and content.
Since 2014, Muffett, who works with businesses to deploy onion sites, has been considering the idea of a Tor-friendly Twitter. That’s when Facebook established its own hidden service, ostensibly to address major operational concerns for Tor users who were frequently mistakenly identified as botnets. In 2016, Facebook said that a million people per month used Tor to access the normal site or onion service. Gizbot