Twitter has launched a privacy-protected version of its site to bypass surveillance and censorship after Russia restricted access to its services in the country.
Russia has blocked access to Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to limit the flow of information about its war in Ukraine. Both agencies have said they are working to restore public access inside Russia, even restricting the country’s state media from their services.
Known as an “onion” service, users can access this version of Twitter if they download the Tor Browser, which allows people to access sites referred to as the “Dark Web”. Onion sites have .onion suffixes instead of .com. Regular websites, including Twitter.com, are also accessible on Tor, but .onion versions are designed specifically for Tor and prevent the site from being deceived by malicious actors.
Although the term “dark web” refers to illegal sites such as the now-defunct Silk Road drug market, it is often used by people to remain anonymous for their own security and also to access sites censored by repressive governments.
Tor also has accessible versions on Facebook and other sites such as the BBC. The Twitter version has been working for some time, since before the Russian attack, the agency confirmed on Wednesday.
Alec Muffet, a software engineer and Internet security expert who has worked with other companies to set up the Onion site, announced the new Twitter service on his own Twitter account.
“This is probably the most important and long awaited tweet I’ve ever written,” he wrote.