Signal Downloads See Huge Increase During Protests: Keep it up!

Signal Downloads See Huge Increase During Protests: Keep it up!

At the end of last month, as protests and rebellion were just starting up, I posted a “how to” on using your phone safely at protests. Point 2 was to install Signal on your phone and use it for all your communications.

It’s exciting now to read that use of Signal is way up:

The week before George Floyd died on May 25, about 51,000 first-time users downloaded Signal, according to data from the analytics firm Sensor Tower. The following week, as protests grew nationwide, there were 78,000 new downloads. In the first week of June, there were 183,000.

New York Times

Now that more people are using Signal, it’s important to keep using it. As discussed in last month’s article, Signal protects you from snooping by your cell phone company and by law enforcement using Stingray devices that could read all your regular text messages. Not even Signal’s servers themselves know what message you send – and on top of that they don’t keep track of who you message or when.

Now that we’ve all got Signal on our phones (right?), take it a step further. Don’t just use it for protests and organizing. Use it every day, for even the most mundane of conversations. Why?

We’ve already gone over the benefits for activists, and they apply to everyone else. You might need your texts with your grandma to disappear after an hour, but you can both feel better that Facebook won’t know what you’re messaging about.

Plus, we need to normalize using Signal. If only privacy-minded people like activists, organizers, journalists, etc use it, then it becomes slightly easier to know when they’re talking to a source or comrade (even if spies won’t know who they’re talking to or about what). My closest friend and I use Signal every day, to talk about boring stuff like our jobs and how we’re dealing with quarantine. We share cat pics and GIFs. There’s nothing that says If everyone uses Signal, then the traffic just becomes more noise and means less and less.

You do have to get everyone on it, but thankfully it’s not hard to do. And Signal is adding quality-of-life improvements regularly to make every-day texting better and the software more secure. There’s no reason not to use it.