You can no longer receive tweet notifications via SMS. Twitter is retiring the feature.
The company is shutting down the old school “Twitter via SMS” function for most of the world to protect users from potential security threats.
“We want to continue to help keep your account safe. We’ve seen vulnerabilities with SMS, so we’ve turned off our Twitter via SMS service, except for a few countries,” the company said on Monday.
Twitter declined to specify which countries the Twitter via SMS will remain available in. But the feature has been handy for people on non-smartphone handsets, or who lack steady access to internet networks. It works by tying your cell phone number to your Twitter account. To post a tweet, you can send an SMS message to a special “short code” number (in the US, it’s 40404).
SMS messaging was the main way mobile users could post to the social media platform back in 2006 when Twitter was first founded and smartphones were starting to emerge. Times have changed, and now most users send and receive tweets via the company’s mobile app or a browser. However, the company kept the Twitter via SMS feature running up until last year when a group of hackers began abusing the function to hijack people’s accounts. Among the victims was Twitter’s own CEO Jack Dorsey.
To pull off the attacks, the culprits first stole the victims’ cell phone numbers, likely by tricking the cellular provider into handing over access. The Twitter via SMS feature then did the rest with no safeguard in place to thwart the hijackings.
In response, the company decided to suspend the ability to tweet via SMS in most countries. However, tweet notifications over SMS remained in tact until last week when users began noticing the feature was no longer working, according to DansDeals, a shopping deals website.
“On Thursday evening, Twitter killed their Twitter for SMS option without providing any advance warning,” the website said. “For more than 11 years, thousands of DansDeals readers have been getting SMS alerts of new deals via the service.”
Despite the change, Twitter isn’t killing off SMS-based functions entirely. “Everyone will still have access to important SMS messages needed to log in to and manage their accounts,” the company said. This includes the SMS-based two-factor authentication system on Twitter.
If you have this security safeguard activated, we recommend you ditch relying on SMS to transmit the two-factor codes. Instead, its better to use an authenticator app to generate the two-factor codes directly on your phone. Twitter has a help document on how to activate the feature.