The private information that these governments are trying to obtain includes email addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses. Such data is used for obtaining access to websites as well as government services and will let governments track your activities and conduct passive or active surveillance over a period of time.
Hackers: 1; Geeks: 0: Cyber attack stalls Oxford, Cambridge servers
The governments in question have not been named by Twitter but it is generally believed that China, Russia, the United States and North Korea are the culprits.
Twitter sent these messages to select individuals who are directly or indirectly related to the anonymous browser Tor which is often used to access the dark web. According to the Telegraph, the list of recipients include Coldhak, a Canadian non-profit organisation, Noris Fabio, a security researcher and Runa Sandvik, a security adviser.
We received a warning from @twitter today stating we may be "targeted by state-sponsored actors" pic.twitter.com/oZm83eVFC5— coldhak (@coldhakca) December 11, 2015
We received a warning from @twitter today stating we may be "targeted by state-sponsored actors" pic.twitter.com/oZm83eVFC5
"It's possible your account may not have been an intended target of the suspected activity, but we wanted to alert you as soon as possible. We recognize that this may be of particular concern if you choose to Tweet using a pseudonym," said Twitter in the messages in question.
Twitter has suggested affected users to visit and take online security tips from the "Tor Project" or EFF's "Protecting Yourself on Social Networks."
Tim Cook is very pissed off with Facebook and Google
Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lashed out at the government's attempts towards undermining individual privacy as well as bypassing data encryption practices by the social media giant.
"To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That's why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people's services."
"This is why I've been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government.
Your web browsing history will soon be recorded by the Government
The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst," he added.
This year, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out with his unhappiness with our government's attempt to undermine data encryption, even threatening to stop doing business in the UK if the government goes ahead with its plans.
Government plans to end device encryption will hurt you, says Tim Cook
"If you halt or weaken encryption, the people that you hurt are not the folks that want to do bad things. It’s the good people. The other people know where to go," he said in an interview to The Telegraph.
"We believe very strongly in end to end encryption and no back doors. We don’t think people want us to read their messages. We don’t feel we have the right to read their emails,” Cook added.