Twitter launches a Tor service to help Russians evade censorship

Tweet even when the government has banned the social network.

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Twitter has a simple solution to Russia's ban on the social network: offer a service that helps you circumvent the ban. The company has introduced a Tor onion service that should let you access Twitter even when it's blocked in a given country. The anonymizing nature of Tor will also help protect against surveillance.

The platform is based on a version of the Enterprise Onion Toolkit (EOTK) customized to meet Twitter's "extraordinary production requirements," according to contributor Alec Muffett. He broke the news rather than Twitter as there were concerns news on the official TwitterSafety account would produce a "load-spike" that flooded the Tor service right when it was most needed.

The timing is more than a little convenient. This will let Russians see and share the truth about the invasion of Ukraine despite their country's efforts to censor social apps like Facebook (which already has an onion) and communications tools like Zello. And when President Putin's government has made it illegal for media outlets to contradict the official narrative on the war, Twitter may offer one of the few ways to access objective reporting in Russia.

That's not the only use, of course. The Tor offering could also help residents in other countries that block Twitter, such as China, Iran and North Korea. It might also help elsewhere — you could use the Tor onion to post without as much worry that others might track your online activity.