Tor Project announces end of Tor Messenger

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 2, 2018
Updated • Apr 3, 2018

The Tor Project launched Tor Messenger back in 2015 as a beta with the aim to improve the security of instant messaging communication services and user privacy.

Based on Instantbird, an instant messenger that relied on code and technologies developed by Mozilla, Tor Messenger allowed users to use various protocols supported by Instantbird including Facebook Chat, Google Talk, XMPP, IRC or Jabber.

Tor Messenger sent data over the Tor network and enforced one-on-one conversation encryption using Off-the-Record messaging.

The project tried to introduce support for multiple chat and messaging protocols in a client that came with security and privacy presets to improve both with minimal user configuration.

It was clear even back then that the solution had limitations. One of the core issues of Tor Messenger was that communication was built on existing networks which meant that servers could log metadata.

Tor Messenger was not the first chat client that relied on Tor to improve security and privacy. TorChat, released back  in 2011, was probably the first attempt to bring instant messaging and Tor together.

The Tor Project announced today that it will discontinue support for Tor Messenger after the release of eleven beta versions.

Three reasons are provided:

  • Development of Instantbird has halted and while the chat functionality is available in Thunderbird or will be ported to Thunderbird, its user interface won't.
  • Metadata leaks because of the reliance on third-party protocols and networks. Metadata could reveal patterns of communication and information about participants such as communication preferences, friends, when and who people are contacted and more.
  • Tor Messenger never left beta status because of limited resources. Limited resources prevented the introduction of new features, resolving bugs more efficiently, or even managing to get Tor Messenger audited externally.

The Tor Project felt that the best course of action was to sunset Tor Messenger. The team suggests that users who rely on Tor Messenger check out the EFF's "Building a secure messenger" article or check out CoyIM if support for XMPP is required.

Now You: Which messaging apps or services do you use?

Tor Project announces end of Tor Messenger
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Tor Project announces end of Tor Messenger
The Tor Project announced today that it will discontinue support for Tor Messenger after the release of eleven beta versions.
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  1. C said on April 6, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Sorry, I meant there is this:

    Can run exclusively over Tor. p2p chat OTR over Tor.

  2. C said on April 5, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Maybe Tor Messenger and not Birdy was the goal… duh!

  3. C said on April 5, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    TorBirdy may have had its day, but there still is a Tor onion address p2p chat and file transfer solution out there – with true OTR messaging in a secured environment.

    Worth a try ?

  4. GNU Ring said on April 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    GNU Ring
    Ring is a free and universal communication platform which preserves the users’ privacy and freedoms.

  5. Ben said on April 3, 2018 at 11:59 am

    > Which messaging apps or services do you use?
    None anymore. But I once looked into Tox and it seems interesting – although a somewhat clusterfuck regarding dead software/websites.

    This seems to be the current website if you want to make an article about it:

    It’s P2P so you could also look at the amount of data sent/received via ProcessExplorer or so. When I first looked into it a year ago or so, I had quite high traffic with it just from being online. But on my last test some weeks ago it was fine.

  6. Onion Routing said on April 3, 2018 at 10:21 am

    For metadata-free communication you can use the well-known Ricochet IM ( or unMessage which HAS AUDIO SUPPORT 😉 (

    All of them are based on onion services.

  7. XenoSilvano said on April 3, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I got interested in this project back when it was first debuted due to the ‘Global Surveillance Disclosures’, my interest in the project did not endure because, as what was written in the article, the project did not really go anywhere, I also felt that the client was somewhat limited

    the main mediums of communication that I typically use are email, SMS, mobile telephony and when it comes to instant messaging clients, I use ‘Threema’ with a select number of people who care about their privacy but mostly Skype and WhatsApp with my less security minded acquaintances

  8. anonymous said on April 3, 2018 at 1:18 am
    Reply looks like a good one.

  9. John Fenderson said on April 3, 2018 at 1:14 am

    “Which messaging apps or services do you use?”

    Personally, I don’t use anything beyond SMS. At work, we are required to use Google Chat.

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