Twitter can no longer be accessed by using The Onion Router’s dark web browser – also known as Tor – as the company let its certificate expire almost a year after the site was put up.
According to a report from The Verge, Tor has confirmed that the site of the social media platform, now owned by Elon Musk, “is no longer available” and that the company had not contacted Tor to renew its certificate.
The onion version of Twitter was launched in March last year when the service was shut down in Russia shortly after the country invaded Ukraine.
Russia aside, the site was also an alternative for people living in countries where the government blocked access to the social media platform.
The Help Center page, which shows which browsers can be used to access the app, has not been modified yet and still lists the Tor network’s websites that can be used to get on the dark web version of Twitter.
However, if a user clicks on any of these sites, they will get an error message from a Twitter website – visiting a Tor site where the certificate has expired is usually a bad idea.
The Tor network is an alternative web browser that encrypts the visitors’ data including their geographical location, IP address, and other similar digital footprints so they can visit any of their supported websites anonymously.
Tor-Adoption Project Leader Offers His Help to Get Onion Twitter Back Online
The programmer that led the adoption of Tor for the micro-blogging giant, Alec Muffett, commented back in March 2022 when the onion site was launched that users had been asking for a dark web Twitter for years.
However, with Elon Musk now cutting through the weeds of Twitter’s operating expenditures, financially supporting this alternative may not have been considered a priority for the head of Tesla (TSLA).
Running an onion site requires the use of independent servers that can tolerate the traffic that the website will get. In the case of Twitter, it is unclear how many people regularly visit or use the platform via the Tor web browser.
However, it is highly likely that the cost of running these servers is not as small as to be considered negligible, which is probably the reason why the company let the certificate expire.
Hey @elonmusk, remediating this is a reasonably straightforward, cheap, and politically popular aspect of the extant Twitter service, running on a small docker tier. I'm happy to advise any Twitter engineers who would like to fix it.https://t.co/DPNKKpw2kX
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) March 8, 2023
Muffett responded to Twitter’s decision to shut down the onion site by offering his advice to find a cheap alternative to keep it running.
Since Musk dismantled the company’s public relations team, media outlets have been unable to get comments from someone within the company who can answer some of the questions surrounding this decision.
The Twitter Safety account has also not published any comments in regards to this decision.
Decimating the Platform’s Engineering Team Has Resulted in Outages for Twitter
Twitter has been experiencing many outages and glitches lately and reports have pointed to a limited number of active engineers as the primary cause for these malfunctions.
Just a couple of days ago, users encountered some weird messages whenever they tried to access the platform while some of the content within the app was not loading properly.
The Twitter Support official account said at the time that “some parts” of the app were not “working as expected” and that the reason for this was an internal change they made that had “unintended consequences”.
Experts in the tech industry have warned that Elon Musk’s decision to let go of a large number of engineers could lead to instability in Twitter systems down the road.
“It used to be that you’d see smaller things fail, but now Twitter is going down completely for certain regions of the world,” former Twitter engineer Saagar Jha told the New York Times in reference to these outages.
“When serious things break, the people who knew the systems aren’t there anymore.”, the programmer added.
Meanwhile, Musk deemed Twitter’s code stack “extremely brittle for no good reason” and said that the source code may need to be entirely rewritten as a result of its alleged vulnerability.
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