Skip links

IP address X-posure now a feature on Musk’s social media platform

Video and audio calling features for X Premium users added last year to Elon Musk’s version of Twitter have been expanded to everyone on the platform, and we’re warning Reg readers yet again to disable the feature – this time because it appears to expose user IP addresses.

X’s News account announced the expansion of video and audio calls to all users last week. Within days complaints started rolling in about the on-by-default feature, with critics noting that, along with opening users up to bombardment by trolls, it would also make physically tracking X users a cinch for anyone who knows how to use a basic network traffic analysis app. 

X even admits that its audio and video calling exposes user IPs on the help page for the feature.

Referring to an enhanced call privacy feature, X said “once our servers facilitate the initial setup, the call itself is routed peer-to-peer such that each parties [sic] IP address may be visible to the other.” 

The enhanced call privacy feature is disabled by default, we note. 

Enabling the feature might not do much in the way of a privacy guarantee either – if either party to an X audio or video call has enhanced privacy enabled, calls “will be relayed through X infrastructure, and the IP address of any party that has this setting enabled will be masked.” 

There’s no mention on X’s audio and video call help page of any form of encryption for calls, so it’s not known if the calls are secured in any way. If they’re not, users are basically trading IP exposure between callers for exposure to X, and the potential that Musk and company could listen in on calls routed through its infrastructure. 

We’ve asked X to clarify whether there’s any encryption or other security included in enhanced call privacy, but didn’t hear back beyond an automated message.

How to protect yourself on X

The safest, most sanity-maintaining way to use X is not to, but for those that want to stick around to watch the whole thing get worse it’s a good idea to disable audio and video calling on  the platform.

All accounts are now able to make and receive video calls, but users can only call folks they’ve previously sent a private message to in the past. For Free X users, who aren’t allowed to send DMs, that means the person you want to call will have to message you first, or the conversation needs to have started in the pre-Musk era. 

Aside from that, restrictions are available to prevent calls from people you don’t follow and the like, but those features don’t matter if you just toggle the whole thing off to begin with.

That said, the call features are a bit buried and might be difficult to find if you don’t know how to navigate X’s rather esoteric menus. 

To find the audio and video calling features, which can only be disabled or modified in the Twitter app, not on the website, start by tapping on your profile picture. From there, tap Settings and Privacy, then Privacy and Safety. 

Under that menu is Direct Messages, where you’ll find the option to enable audio and video calling and tweak its settings. For safety’s sake, ignore those settings and just toggle the whole thing off. ®