X users to get audio and video calling, but no encryption initially

1 Sep 2023

Image: © AdriaVidal/Stock.adobe.com

In response to a question under his post about new calling features on X, Musk said ‘most of the time, encryption isn’t important’.

Elon Musk has said that X, formerly Twitter, is set to add audio and video calling features as part of the company’s broader effort to turn the platform into an everything app.

In a post yesterday (31 August), Musk said that the new audio and video calling features will work on both iOS and Android, as well as on the web version of the app on PCs and Macs.

Describing X as a “global address book”, Musk said that users will not need a phone number to call other people through the platform. “That set of factors is unique,” he added.

This comes just days after Musk introduced a new job posting feature on X for verified organisations. It will allow companies and organisations to feature “critical roles” and reach “millions of relevant candidates”, similar to LinkedIn’s job posting feature.

While there is no indication of when the audio and video calling features will roll out, or who it will be available to, Musk clarified in response to a question in the replies that the functionality will not come with encryption like WhatsApp or Signal initially.

“We will add the ability to turn encryption on or off dynamically. There is necessarily a slight lag for encryption,” he wrote. “Most of the time, encryption isn’t important, and quality of call is better.”

Competitors in the audio and video calling space such as WhatsApp and Signal highlight end-to-end encryption as one of their most important features. Even Messenger, Meta’s messaging app connected to Facebook, is getting an encryption upgrade by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, X updated its privacy policy this week, seeking permission to start collecting users’ biometric information and employment history.

“Based on your consent, we may collect and use your biometric information for safety, security and identification purposes,” the privacy policy reads, adding that X may also collect employment and educational history, skills and abilities, and even job search activity.

The controversial platform has been facing renewed competition from Meta’s Threads, which revealed a web version of its app last week to boost dwindling user uptake.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic