Twitter’s censorship-evading Tor service is no longer working

Visiting Twitter’s Tor onion website will now show you a warning that its certificate has expired, and pushing forward will just send you to an error page. The Tor Project, the non-profit org responsible for maintaining software for the Tor network, has confirmed to The Verge that Twitter’s onion site “is no longer available seemingly with no plans to renew.” Pavel Zoneff, the group’s communications director, said: “The Tor Project has reached out to Twitter to look into bringing the onion version of the social media platform back online. People who rely on onion services for an extra layer of protection and guarantee that they are accessing the content they are looking for now have one fewer way of doing so safely.” It’s worth noting, however, that you can still access Twitter on a Tor browser. 

Twitter launched its Tor service in 2022, shortly after Russia blocked its people’s access to the website. A Tor service allows you to circumvent censorship and gives you the capability to visit an online destination even when it’s supposedly restricted in your country. It also protects you from surveillance, thanks to its anonymization features that encrypt your traffic. You can use it anywhere, but it is perhaps especially helpful to people living in countries with more stringent censorship laws, including North Korea and China. 

The company has yet to announce whether it has any plans on reviving its Tor service. Alec Muffett, who helped Twitter’s engineers adopt Tor services last year, told The Verge that the people within the company he interacted with “are all gone.” He added that he’s pretty sure it’s going to stop working totally “unless Elon [Musk] takes an interest.”

Musk, who purchased Twitter later in 2022, has laid off thousands of workers since he took over, including employees who supported his vision for the website. CNBC reported back in January that only 1,300 personnel were left from the 7,500 people who were working for Twitter before it changed hands. Seeing as Musk seems to be focusing on monetizing Twitter at the moment, and there are barely any employees left at the company, its Tor service may remain unavailable for a long time, if not for good. 

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