Twitter has launched a privacy-protected version of its site to bypass surveillance and censorship after Russia restricted access to its service in the country.
Russia has blocked access to Facebook and Twitter in an effort to restrict the flow of information about its war in Ukraine. Both companies have said they are working on restoring access to people inside Russia, even as they ban the country’s state media from their services.
Known as the “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.” Instead of .com, onion sites have the .onion suffix. Regular websites, including Twitter.com, are also accessible on Tor, but .onion versions are built specifically for Tor and prevent the site from being spoofed by malicious actors.
While the term “dark web” refers to illegal sites such as the now-defunct Silk Road drug market, it is also often used by people to remain anonymous for their own safety and to access sites censored by repressive governments.
Versions of other sites such as Facebook and the BBC are also available on Tor. Twitter’s version has been in the works for some time, as before the Russian invasion, the company confirmed on Wednesday.
Software engineer and Internet security expert Alec Muffett, who has worked with other companies to set up the Onion site, announced Twitter’s new service on his Twitter account.
“This is probably the most important and long-awaited tweet I have written,” he wrote.