Twitter drops off the dark web after Tor service expires

The Twitter logo at their offices in New York City on 12 January, 2023 (Getty Images)
The Twitter logo at their offices in New York City on 12 January, 2023 (Getty Images)

Twitter no longer has a presence on the dark web after the company allowed its Tor onion service certificate to expire.

The platform’s onion service allowed people to access Twitter through the dark web - a section of the internet that is only accessible through specialist web browsers like Tor.

Other mainstream websites that host their services on the Tor browser include BBC, Facebook, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe and Reddit.

The Tor version of Twitter was launched last year in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an anti-censorship tool. Twitter was among several sites banned by Russia in retaliation to the platform placing restrictions on state-owned media like RT and Sputnik.

The dark web service meant that people could log in and visit Twitter anywhere in the world, even in Russia and other countries where it was banned.

It also provided an extra level of privacy for Twitter users who did not want to have their online activity tracked by governments, companies or hackers.

“The onion site is no longer available seemingly with no plans to renew. The Tor Project has reached out to Twitter to look into bringing the onion version of the social media platform back online,” a spokesperson for the Tor Project said in a statement.

“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.”

Software engineer Alec Muffett, who helped launch the service, said at the time that the Tor version would provide “greater privacy, integrity, trust, and ‘unblockability’ for people all around the world who use Twitter to communicate”.

Following the expiry of Twitter’s Tor certificate, Mr Muffett offered his help to restore the service.

“Remediating this is a reasonably straightforward, cheap, and politically popular aspect of the extant Twitter service, running on a small docker tier,” he tweeted, tagging Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

“I’m happy to advise any Twitter engineers who would like to fix it.”

The expiration of Twitter’s Tor onion website comes after Mr Musk laid off thousands of workers following his takeover last year, leaving roughly 1,300 employees at the company of an original 7,500.