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Evidence of New Twitter Features Leaked By Security Researcher

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Security researcher leaks details of end-to-end DM encryption and anti-cyberstalking measures possibly coming to Twitter

Security researcher and reverse engineering blogger Jane Manchun Wong discovered evidence that Twitter may be bringing end to end encryption to Twitter, plus two more possible changes that are fairly useful.

She made the information public via a series of tweets that leaked details of the new features still under development..

Trivial But Useful Change

The first change that’s coming is the removal of the source field.

The source field is the section beneath every tweet that tells what kind of device was used to post the tweet.

There must be a purpose for that feature but it’s not immediately apparent.

Ultimately this is a trivial change but probably useful in that it reduces clutter.

End to End Encryption

End-to-end Encryption (E2EE) is a secure communication protocol that is completely private, with zero access from any other party other than those who are participating in the messaging.

In general this is a good idea. But there are also some who raise legitimate concerns about adding E2EE to messaging that might not necessarily be tied to a phone in the same way that WhatsApp and Telegram are.

Jane Manchun Wong Discovers Evidence

Jane Manchun Wong is notable reverse engineering expert who has been interviewed and profiled on sites like BBC News and MIT Technology Review.

According to the BBC profile on her:

“She discovered that Airbnb was testing a new flight integration feature that alerted hosts on the website when their guests’ planes landed safely.

And she sounded the horn when Instagram began experimenting with augmented reality profile pictures.”

MIT Technology Review wrote this about her:

“Wong, 27, has a preternatural ability to crack difficult code—along with a sizable Twitter following that includes some of the biggest names in tech and journalism.

As she gets into the back end of websites’ code to see what software engineers are tinkering with, they await her discoveries with interest. “

Exploring the Twitter Android app she recently discovered that the E2EE feature might be coming to Twitter’s Direct Messaging (DM) service.

She tweeted and posted a screenshot of the evidence:

“Twitter is bringing back end-to-end encrypted DMs

Seeing signs of the feature being worked on in Twitter for Android:”

Is Twitter DM End to End Encryption a Good Idea?

Lea Kissner, the former Twitter Chief Information Security Officer shared her observations about possible pitfalls.

She tweeted:

“For context: I have a PhD in cryptography, my thesis is on privacy-preserving cryptographic protocols, and I’m publicly known to have worked on several novel E2EE systems (from Zoom and Google).

So: 1) YMMV because every system is a bit different 2) this is not my first rodeo”

Among her concerns was the possibility of abuse.

She explained in a follow-up tweet:

“Note that just looking at WhatsApp or Signal doesn’t give you nearly enough understanding about what abuse will be like on a non-phone-number-based network. They have a *much* easier time and it’s still not solved.”

She also noted the complexity involved when rolling it out to multiple devices:

“5. Multiple devices. All of this gets more annoying (though still tractable) when users have more than one device, *especially* if you don’t want the server to be able to just willy nilly add devices (because that compromises security).”

But in the end she affirmed that end-to-end Encryption is doable for Twitter.

Block for Illegal Content in South Korea

The third feature Jane discovered is actually a good one because it works to defeat cyberstalking and the publication of illegal videos uploaded by cyberstalkers and creeps.

She tweeted:

“Twitter is working on a media warning for users in South Korea

“If you upload any Illegally Filmed Content, Twitter may delete or block access to the content and the uploader may be sanctioned.””

Apparently this is aimed at the issue of illegally filmed videos of people and cyberstalking.

This is actually a very useful feature that hopefully will help combat spycam videos and similar media that was taken without a person’s knowledge or agreement.

Will Features Actually Roll Out?

It looks like the Twitter team may be actively working on these useful features.  It will be interesting to see how fast they can roll it out with the reduced workforce.

If you are interested in original article by Roger Montti you can find it here

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Users Lose Confidence That Twitter Will Survive

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Mass exodus of employees heighten the sense that Twitter is coming to an end

Mass exodus of workers Thursday evening made it clear for many that Twitter was on the edge of disappearing, inspiring many to say goodbye as well as taking over ten of the top eleven trending topics.

After weeks of firings and resignations, Twitter was already running on essentially a skeleton crew.

The feeling that Twitter was nearing the end was heightened by Musk’s deadline for workers to commit to his “extremely hardcore” work demands of long hours and weekends in office.

Anecdotal reports surfaced of a mass exodus of workers.

Kylie Robison (@kyliebytes), a tech reporter for Fortune Magazine tweeted about the informal anecdotal perception that it seemed that 75% of employees were choosing to resign and walk away with a three month severance check.

“One point of clarification on the tweet about 75% of twitter employees leaving— this is chatter I’m hearing about the perceptions among people at twitter. It is not based on any official company data.

I will follow up on this thread with the official data once its known!”

Alex Heath (@alexeheath) of the Verge tweeted about anecdotal reports that entire infrastructure teams have resigned.

“Story to be updated soon with more: Am hearing that several “critical” infra engineering teams at Twitter have completely resigned. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” one current engineer tells me of one such group. Also, Twitter has shut off badge access to its offices.”

Heath also shared in another tweet that many employees who resigned share the belief that Twitter is on the edge of “breaking.”

“Hearing from multiple employees that the odds of Twitter breaking in the near future are very high.”

Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) of news organization @platformer related in a tweet that the description of the employee situation is that it appears to be a “mass exodus.”

Perception that Twitter is Ending Grows

The feeling that Twitter was on the verge of ending was palpable on Thursday evening and into the early morning hours as many ex-Twitter employees and tweeps tweeted their goodbyes to Twitter.

Portland, Oregon-based Search marketer Scott Hendison (@shendison) tweeted:

“Could tonight actually be the end of Twitter? A lot of gleeful people sure seem to hope so.

If you’re going over to Mastadon please look me up –”

Journalist Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) tweeted:

“As someone who lived through the heyday of geocities, MySpace, blogspot, typepad, tumblr, and now twitter… it’ll be fine.”

Some Tweets Expressed  Humor

Some tweets expressed a gentle or bittersweet humor.

For example, one tweep noted that his only regret was that the beloved Star Wars actor, Mark Hamill, never followed him on Twitter.

Mark Hamill responded with a follow.

Search trends tracker, Google Trends, revealed that many people are searching for a Twitter alternative. Google searches for both Tumblr and Mastodon have shot up over the past days.

Google Trends Tumblr

Apparently so many people were using Tumblr that the service temporarily crashed.

Tweets About Twitter Trending Overnight

The trending tweets reflected concern over how long Twitter is going to be available, perhaps as many folks read about the mass exodus of employees.

Ten out of the top eleven trending topics were about Twitter:

Trending with #TwitterDown

Trending with Twitter HQ

Trending with MySpace, Vine

4· Mastodon
222K Tweets

5· Discord
1.02M Tweets

6· Since Twitter
543K Tweets

7· Before Twitter
682K Tweets

8· Insta
282K Tweets

9· Space Karen
27.2K Tweets

11· #TwitterIsOverParty

The trending topic of Space Karen is a reference to a projection on the side of the Twitter headquarters yesterday evening that scrolled a series of amusing monikers for Elon Musk, with Space Karen inspring a great deal of mirth among Twitter users.

Is this the End of Twitter?

Considering that Twitter’s infrastructure teams are reported to be running at bare bones level or less, it’s not surprising that so many people feel that Twitter has reached the end.

A test of Twitter’s resilience will come this weekend with the start of the most popular sporting event in the world, The World Cup, which will bring a huge amount of activity to the platform.

The scary part is that employees are said to be locked out of the building this weekend.

The feeling that a historic event is happening in slow motion was inescapable. The trending topics were dominated by tweets related to the demise of Twitter.

That so many people decided to say goodbye added to the perception that  Twitter was dying or at least near breaking.

Although the trending topics imply that Twitter is on the way out, a better idea of how much longer Twitter may survive may be known by Monday and during the coming week as the World Cup causes increased traffic to Twitter.

If you are interested in original article by Roger Montti you can find it here

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