Good news for encryption fans, with Twitter planning to roll out full messaging encryption this month, along with the capacity to reply to individual DMs in a chain, and use any emoji as a reaction, as opposed to the seven presets.
Twitter chief Elon Musk outlined the new time frame for the DM updates over the weekend, confirming previous reports of development on Twitter’s DM options.
The biggest update here is encrypted DMs, which would move Twitter more into line with Meta and other messaging apps in providing increased privacy for users.
As you can see in this example, posted by Twitter designer Andrea Conway, once encryption is enabled in your Twitter DMs, you’ll see a notification in your chat thread that ‘Messages and calls are secured with end-to-end encryption’.
That will mean that no one, other than the chat participants, are able to view the contents of these discussions, which will provide more reassurance and privacy, but could also enable criminal activity, as not even government or legal authorities are able to circumvent encryption.
That’s been a key point of concern raised about Meta’s push to enable encryption across all of its messaging products, but despite opposition, Meta is moving ahead with that plan, and Twitter will seemingly also soon move into line with the same.
The capacity to reply to an individual DM, meanwhile, will make it easier to engage in more specific conversation, as opposed to adding another reply to the broader thread.
This example shows how the process will function, with users able to long press on any DM to reply directly to it.
And finally, there’s the option to reply to a message with any emoji as a reaction.
As you can see here, the process will enable you to tap on the three dots menu and choose any emoji as your reaction. Twitter’s also considering an option that would enable users to personalize their default reaction set, but it’s not clear if that will be a part of this initial, planned release.
Each of these updates could be interesting, and the shift to automatic encryption is a significant step, which Musk has flagged for some time. But at the same time, they’re also relatively small in terms of improving the user experience, which likely won’t see them be significant drivers of interest or take up.
Though it’s unclear how Twitter’s going in this regard. In the weeks after he took the helm at the app, Elon had repeatedly noted that Twitter usage was reaching record highs, but since December, those updates have gone quiet, and some reports have suggested that Twitter usage has declined significantly following that initial hype boost.
Twitter’s also, reportedly, struggling to bring in ad dollars, with a new report from the Wall Street Journal suggesting that 70 of the platform’s top 100 advertisers have not resumed spending on the platform at the same levels following Musk’s acquisition of the app. Overall, Twitter revenue is reportedly 40% down, year-over-year - which would explain why the company is still looking to cut costs wherever it can, including more staff cuts, despite Musk previously pledging that the job cull was over.
Within this context, I don’t really see DM tweaks having much impact. Maybe if they were offered as Twitter Blue exclusives, that could drive more take-up – but then again, Twitter Blue, at least right now, contributes only a fraction of Twitter’s overall intake.
In summary, these are interesting tweaks, which will be highly relevant to some users, but they’re unlikely to move the needle in boosting revenue or adoption. Which, they’re probably not designed to do, but it is interesting to see Twitter focusing on elements like this amid its various larger concerns.