Connor McCallum

Messaging App Introduces Tool to Keep Demonstrators Safe

(Image: Signal)

In an effort to guard protesters against identification, instant messaging app Signal has introduced a feature that allows users to blur their face.

 

An encrypted instant messaging app called Signal has announced a new tool that allows users to blur faces in pictures uploaded to the app from Android and iOS devices.

The announcement comes in support of the widespread Black Lives Matter protests occurring all over the world that were sparked from the murder of George Floyd.

“At Signal, we support the people who have gone into the streets to make their voices heard,” Signal co-founder Moxie Marlinspike wrote in an official update.

“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,” Marlinspike added, alluding to the fact that face masks have become required wear by some and even whole nations during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The feature lets users blur faces in photos and video by tapping a “Blur” icon. If need be, the user can also manually blur parts of the image.

 

The concept of domestic surveillance has undoubtedly become a pressing topic as protesters have taken to the streets—the United States National Guard and law enforcement were found to be flying surveillance planes above protesters earlier this week.

 

The concept of domestic surveillance has undoubtedly become a pressing topic as protesters have taken to the streets—the United States National Guard and law enforcement were found to be flying surveillance planes above protesters earlier this week.

Signal’s blurring function, while a well-meant gesture, will be a drop in the ocean, unfortunately. It won’t be able to suppress surveillance cameras, police body cameras, and press photographers taking people’s pictures, as The Verge points out. It is also possible, with the right tools and methods, to reverse pixelation and blurring.

However, the point isn’t lost on Signal. The company is now looking to distribute “versatile face coverings to the community free of charge,” according to the update.

Whatever the case, people are grateful, record numbers of new users have been flooding to Signal to safely and securely keep in touch following the protests, and to document the events that go down.

 

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