Amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, several social media sites, including Facebook, have been banned by Russia in an attempt to control the flow of information. Although Twitter isn’t among the services officially banned by Russia’s Roskomnadzor, sources told Techcrunch that accessing Twitter was slightly difficult. “We’re aware of reports that people are increasingly having difficulty accessing Twitter in Russia. We’re investigating and working to fully restore access to our service,” a Twitter spokesperson told Techcrunch.
Following the mild suppression, Twitter officially released a Tor onion service that is primarily meant to optimize availability and accessibility according to Alec Muffet, a software engineer and cybersecurity expert, who officially made the announcement through Twitter.
I’m delighted to have assisted @Twitter engineers in their adoption of #OnionServices & #OnionNetworking from @TorProject — providing greater privacy, integrity, trust, & “unblockability” for people all around the world who use @Twitter to communicate.https://t.co/LlkXyJJOiB pic.twitter.com/7waJ4ZWm4s
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) March 8, 2022
Muffet termed the announcement as ‘most important and long-awaited’ because despite debuting officially in March 2022, the project started in 2014 and is the result of many people’s efforts. Neither Twitter nor Muffet attributed the move to an effort to suppress censorship by Russia although it’s evident this could also be a primary cause. “Anonymity is not the point. Access is,” Muffet replied to a user who complained about the lack of anonymity while using the service which validates the fact that Twitter unveiled the Tor onion service to improve access and availability.
Twitter is joining a group of many authoritative sites that already use Tor onion services. Among them is BBC, The New York Times, SecureDrop, etc. Authenticity and availability are some of the reasons brands should have an onion service. “The first benefits are authenticity and availability: if you are running Tor Browser and if you click/type in exactly the proper onion address, you are guaranteed to be connected to what you expect — or not at all,” Muffet says.
This move is a new dawn in the media industry as it continues popularizing Tor which has been playing an integral role in bypassing censorship. Twitter’s address to the Tor version is: twitter3e4tixl4xyajtrzo62zg5vztmjuricljdp2c5kshju4avyoid.onion