IP address X-posure now a feature on Musk's social media thing

Just a little FYI

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 FYI: It may reveal your IP address to those you're nattering away to.

For some of you, that's not a problem. You're calling people you know and trust anyway. For others, it may be a genuine privacy issue, so at least you've been warned. This is the nature of this kind of peer-to-peer communications. When you call someone via X, each end by default will be able to determine the other person's IP address.

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 could also make physically tracking X users, to some degree at least, a cinch for anyone who knows how to inspect network packets and see the other end of a conversation's IP address.

To its credit, Xitter discloses that its audio and video calling exposes user IPs on the help page for the 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."

An enhanced call privacy feature, which routes connections through an intermediary server so that the IP address of each end of the conversation is obscured, is disabled by default, we note. That said, it can be switched on – and 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." Phew.

There's no mention on X's audio and video call help page of any form of encryption for calls, though, so it's not known if the calls are secured in any way. We'd like to assume so. We've asked X to clarify whether there's any encryption or other security included, 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 who 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.

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. ®

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify the requirements and settings of the communications feature.

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