Twitter unveiled a privacy-protected version of its site in an effort to bypass surveillance and censorship after Russia restricted access to the social media service in its country.
The tech giant launched a dedicated Tor onion service in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, TechCrunch reported. The move will allow users in Russia to bypass the government’s internet blocks and allow information to flow to users.
Tor, which stands for “The Onion Router,” is based on a customized version of the Enterprise Onion Toolkit (EOTK), according to Forbes. It was announced by cybersecurity expert Alec Muffett, who in 2014 led the team that launched the Facebook Onion service, TechCrunch reported.
The EOTK tool was designed by Muffett to help website owners add a .onion URL for their site’s domain in a matter of minutes, the website reported.
“This is possibly the most important and long-awaited tweet that I’ve ever composed,” Muffett tweeted.
The Tor browser allows people to access sites on what is known as the “dark web,” according to The Associated Press. While “dark web” has a connotation of illegal sites, it is also often used by people seeking to remain anonymous for their safety and to access sites censored by repressive governments, the AP reported.
The browser also encrypts internet traffic and routes it through a series of thousands of servers around the world, run mostly by volunteers, Forbes reported.
Creating a specific onion site has advantages over just browsing on Tor, Muffett told TechCrunch.
“If you are running Tor browser and if you click/type in exactly the proper onion address, you are guaranteed to be connected to what you expect -- or not at all,” Muffett told the website.
In addition to the restrictions on Twitter and Facebook, Russia has also blocked access to news services including the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.
Twitter confirmed to TechCrunch that users in Russia are having “increasing difficulty” accessing its service and said it is working to restore full access.
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