Most Internet companies have implemented the SMS-based Two Factor Authentication or 2FA feature on their apps/websites to prevent unauthorized access. The good thing about this security feature is that it generally comes free for all users. Surprisingly, Elon Musk-owned Twitter is now changing its policy by removing the text-based 2FA feature for non-paying users.
Starting March 20, 2023, Twitter users who have been securing their accounts using SMS for two-factor authentication (2FA) will have to either change their security method or pay for a Twitter Blue subscription to maintain the additional layer of protection.
How does Twitter Two-Factor Authentication work?
Two-factor authentication is a security process that provides an extra security measure to Twitter accounts, even if the password has been stolen. After entering the password, users can log in to their account by entering a code sent via SMS or an authenticator app or by using a security key.
However, in a recent blog post, Twitter announced that after March 20, 2023, non-subscribers of Twitter Blue would no longer be able to enrol in the SMS method of 2FA.
According to a tweet from Twitter Support, two-factor authentication will still not be required to log into Twitter, but 2FA is strongly recommended for the users. The change in security method only affects the available 2FA options for non-subscribers of Twitter Blue. Twitter Blue is a subscription service, costing $8 per month if you subscribe through the web or $11 a month on your iOS device.
Twitter users can navigate the account settings to change the two-factor authentication app. Within the “security and account access” section, three distinct options are available for configuring two-factor authentication.
Hours after Platformer’s Managing Editor Zoë Schiffer tweeted about the change, Twitter announced its decision to limit the 2FA options available for non-subscribers of Twitter Blue. This move indicates the platform’s efforts to attract more subscribers to its premium service, as advertisers decreased spending after billionaire Elon Musk‘s $44 billion takeover of the company last year.
Elon Musk, who has over 129 million followers on Twitter, has been vocal about his desire to decrease the platform’s reliance on advertising revenue. He believes that a subscription model would be a better way for Twitter to make money and avoid conflicts of interest that could arise from advertising. Advertising could make the platform prioritize the interests of advertisers over the interests of users, leading to a loss of user trust.
Advertisers are not investing in Twitter due to several factors. Firstly, Twitter’s user base and engagement levels are comparatively lower than other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, Twitter’s ad targeting capabilities may not be as strong as its competitors. Finally, the platform has been criticized for harassment and misinformation, which could make some advertisers hesitant to associate their brands with the platform.
Earlier this month, The Information reported that Twitter’s Blue subscription service has around 180,000 subscribers in the US, suggesting that the platform’s users are not showing much interest in the service. The company has offered various features to entice more users to subscribe, including a coveted blue checkmark and the ability to post longer tweets.
Twitter is under increased scrutiny and whistleblower complaints about its lack of efforts to secure user safety. Many users reported issues with two-factor authentication in the past; therefore, the company is investigating reports of undelivered SMS codes.
To address security concerns, Twitter announced in a blog post that using SMS for two-factor authentication has been “used and abused” by bad actors. It has also come to light that hackers have attempted to access text message codes using SIM swapping. The company also informed that if Twitter users disable text message 2FA, their phone number will not be automatically removed from their account. Instead, users need to update their number in the account’s settings.
Elon Musk’s motive behind the change in 2FA options is to promote the Twitter Blue subscription feature, which includes advanced security options such as an undo button for tweets and custom app icons. By offering unique features, the micro-blogging company hopes to offset the loss of advertising revenue while providing more advanced security options and other exciting features for paying subscribers.