Elon Musk reveals Twitter is to launch encrypted direct messages on Wednesday, and voice and video chat are to follow
Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk has signalled more major changes for the microblogging platform going forward.
On Tuesday Musk tweeted that Twitter “should” on Wednesday launch encrypted direct messages, with voice and video chat to follow at a later (undisclosed) stage.
This is the latest dizzying change for Twitter, after Elon Musk last week announced a move to help publishers and content creators charge for users to access their content on Twitter.
Earlier this week Musk said the platform was planning to “purge” accounts that have been in active for several years and make their handles available to new users.
And as has become usual under Musk, the details of how (and when) all of these changes might be carried out, are not immediately made clear.
But what is clear from Musk’s tweet on Wednesday is that he hopes to launch the encrypted direct messaging (i.e. messages not visible to the public) on Wednesday.
“With latest version of app, you can DM reply to any message in the thread (not just most recent) and use any emoji reaction,” he tweeted. “Release of encrypted DMs V1.0 should happen tomorrow. This will grow in sophistication rapidly. The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if there was a gun to my head.”
“Coming soon will be voice and video chat from your handle to anyone on this platform, so you can talk to people anywhere in the world without giving them your phone number,” he added.
With latest version of app, you can DM reply to any message in the thread (not just most recent) and use any emoji reaction.
Release of encrypted DMs V1.0 should happen tomorrow. This will grow in sophistication rapidly. The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023
The CEO said that users can now reply to any message in a DM thread, not just the most recent, as well as use any emoji to react to a message. Previously, users would only be able to reply to the latest message in a DM thread and only react with specific emojis.
The latest change is part of Musk’s previously stated ambition to turn Twitter into “X, the everything app” that includes messaging and even financial services.
And the latest move could see Twitter form a direct challenge to two well established services from Facebook parent Meta Platforms, namely WhatsApp and Messenger.
WhatsApp has had end-to-end encryption since 2016, and in January this year Meta said it was expanding testing for default end-to-end encryption for its Messenger service, despite opposition from governments and law enforcement.
But Meta may not be taking the Twitter challenge lying down.
In March Meta said it was considering launching a stand-alone, text-based social network similar to Twitter.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralised social network for sharing text updates,” Meta told Silicon UK.
“We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”
The move could allow Meta to capitalise on the disarray at Twitter since its takeover by Elon Musk late last year, which has seen millions of Twitter users flock to rival platforms, including Mastodon and Jack Dorsey’s Twitter rival Bluesky.
Dorsey recently said he no longer believes that Elon Musk is the right person to lead Twitter.
It should be noted that new Twitter features that Musk promises are not always delivered on time. In February for example, he said Twitter would introduce a feature to share advertising revenue with creators on the platform.
That has yet to be delivered.