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Twitter to charge for SMS-based two-factor authentication – How to use Google Authenticator instead

Twitter’s latest move under Elon Musk is to start charging a fee for the use of SMS messages for two-factor authentication. To avoid that charge, here’s how to use Google Authenticator for Twitter two-factor authentication.

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Twitter will charge for SMS two-factor authentication

Starting March 20, Twitter will begin to require Twitter Blue for the use of two-factor authentication over SMS. The change, officially announced today, is certainly a major step. Twitter says that it will simply turn off two-factor authentication for anyone who is still using SMS keys and is not paying for Blue as of the March 20 cutoff.

In a blog post, Twitter angles the change somewhat as a form of security, saying that SMS-based authentication is “abused” by “bad actors.”

While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used – and abused – by bad actors. So starting today, we will no longer allow accounts to enroll in the text message/SMS method of 2FA unless they are Twitter Blue subscribers. The availability of text message 2FA for Twitter Blue may vary by country and carrier.

However, Twitter will still allow for two-factor authentication with the use of physical security keys or an authenticator app.

How to use Google Authenticator with Twitter

One of the apps that you can use for Twitter two-step authentication comes from Google.

Top comment by David Rodríguez

Liked by 32 people

Moving the costs of basic security to the final user? Is anybody handling this madness?

Having your users verified or protected from password breaches are Twitter's obligations, not premium features.

View all comments

Google Authenticator has been available for years now and is an easy method of dealing out two-factor codes for a variety of different apps and services, and linking Twitter is reasonably easy too. The first step is to download Google Authenticator on your smartphone. The app is available on both Google Play for Android and the App Store for iOS. Next, access your Twitter account’s “Security and account access” settings. On desktop, you can use this link. From there, use the security menu and select “two-factor authentication.” Then select “authentication app” and hit “Get Started” on the next pop-up.

From there, Twitter will generate a QR code that you can scan with the Google Authenticator app. Once that QR code is scanned, your accounts will be linked, and two-factor codes will be shown in the Authenticator app. When logging into Twitter, you’ll be asked to input the code that the app currently shows, which changes every 30 seconds.

If you are currently using SMS for Twitter two-factor authentication, Google Authenticator is certainly a step up in security.

Beyond Google Authenticator, you can also use apps such as 1Password, Authy, and more for these codes.

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Avatar for Ben Schoon Ben Schoon

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