As the Twitter company announced today, the ability for users to tweet via SMS has been disabled by Twitter. This feature has been present since Twitter first launched. Actually, the reason of doing such action is a couple of high-profile hacks which have led Twitter to disable it.
Twitter Support said that due to a series of vulnerabilities that “need to be addressed by mobile carriers” it is removing this feature. Also, the company said that its reliance on phone numbers for two-factor authentication played a role in the decision.
It’s unclear how long SMS support for tweets will be disabled, but Twitter notes that it will first reactivate it in markets that “depend on SMS for reliable communication.”
We’re temporarily turning off the ability to Tweet via SMS, or text message, to protect people’s accounts. We’re taking this step because of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by mobile carriers and our reliance on having a linked phone number for two-factor authentication (we’re working on improving this).
We’ll reactivate this in markets that depend on SMS for reliable communication soon while we work on our longer-term strategy for this feature.
In August, the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was hacked. The hackers used Dorsey’s account to tweet a bomb threat, racial slurs, and other unsavory things. Then, Chloe Grace Moretz suffered a similar fate, with the same group claiming responsibility.
These hacks happened as a result of Twitter’s Tweet via SMS feature, which lets you tweet via text message. By utilizing a technique called SIM swapping, the hackers were able to post whatever they wanted to these accounts without knowing the logins.
As a result of these hacks, twitter has now disabled the Tweet via SMS feature. In a series of tweets, Twitter Support said this is necessary to “protect people’s accounts […] because of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by mobile carriers”.
Twitter has made it clear that this is a temporary measure. The company is planning to reactivate Tweet via SMS in “markets that depend on SMS for reliable communication soon”. Which refers to countries with low adoption rates for smartphones.
The rest of the world may have to wait longer for the return of the Tweet via SMS feature. And there is a chance it will never return. And to be fair, this is more of a legacy feature for anyone who owns a smartphone, who are obviously going to use the app instead.
Twitter clearly thinks this is a necessary move to prevent more people becoming victims of this type of attack. And we suspect the fact that Twitter’s own CEO was targeted prompted the company to act fast to solve the problem, albeit temporarily.
If you have been using the Tweet via SMS feature to tweet then your options are limited. If you have a smartphone then just download the app. Or you can always visit Twitter.com instead.