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Signal should be protesters’ messaging app of choice thanks to new blur face tool

The new version of Signal allows you to quickly and safely share images of protests without putting the protesters around you at risk of identification and retaliation.

Signal should be protesters’ messaging app of choice thanks to new blur face tool
[Photo: frankie cordoba/Unsplash]

When it comes to privacy, there are some good messaging apps (Apple’s Messages, WhatsApp) and some bad ones (Facebook Messenger). But there’s only one truly great messaging app when it comes to privacy: Signal.

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Here’s why the app, famously endorsed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, should be your messaging app of choice. However, as of today, Signal has gotten even better—and if you’re an organizer or protester marching in support of black lives, it should be the app you use to communicate with and share photos with other people.

[Photo: courtesy of Signal]
That’s because Signal now allows users to quickly blur faces in photos shared via the app—no external photo editor needed. This means you can quickly and safely share images of protests without putting the protesters around you at risk of identification and retaliation. From Signal’s blog post on the new features:

Many of the people and groups who are organizing for that change are using Signal to communicate, and we’re working hard to keep up with the increased traffic. We’ve also been working to figure out additional ways we can support everyone in the street right now.

One immediate thing seems clear: 2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face.

The latest version of Signal for Android and iOS introduces a new blur feature in the image editor that can help protect the privacy of the people in the photos you share. Now it’s easy to give every face a hiding place, or draw a fuzzy trace over something you want to erase. Simply tap on the new blur tool icon to get started.

Best yet, the new blur tool’s operations are carried out entirely on your smartphone—so no images are transmitted to a server somewhere to have faces blurred. But Signal does note that its new blur faces tool isn’t perfect—it may not blur every face in a photo. That’s why users can also quickly add blurs to any part of the photo they want just by using their fingers. Portions of a photo protesters might want to blur (besides faces) are any protester’s distinguishing marks, such as tattoos or logos on their clothes.

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Signal has already submitted the updated app to Apple and Google for approval on their respective app stores, so the new blur tool for Signal for iPhone and Android should be rolling out shortly.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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