Twitter has stated a number of times now that it would like to clamp down on trolls and the who abuse other users on the social network. Seemingly as section of that effort, the company is now asking Tor users for a telephone number when signing up for a new account.
Twitter allows signing up with a telephone number, or adding it to be used in two factor authentication, but regular users aren’t actually required to provide a telephone number if they don’t want to help. Unless they use Tor, where an identifiable cell phone number is now a pre-requisite of opening a new account.
The privacy-focused browser allows end users to obfuscate their IPs through the Tor network which means identifying anyone user should be nigh with impossible. And this could obviously certainly be a problem if Twitter wanted to ban repeat offenders on the network.
That being said, the facebook and myspace hasn’t publicly commented on this particular change yet. It’s not clear if Twitter identified a large number of trolls as using the Tor visitor, or whether the company is just trying out a feature on limited users before it rolls out to the competition.
And while this, in principle, sounds all well and great, there’s another point that must be explored here. As TechCrunch noticed, Tor isn’t just used by means of evildoers and cyber criminals, it’s also employed by lots of privacy-minded users like human rights activists, political detractors and the like. Forcing all of these individuals to provide personal identifiable information may well prove dangerous, and perhaps too big of a price to shell out.
But, of course, we’ll should wait and see what the outcome of this move will be, and how Twitter comments before you can form a final judgment with its efficacy.