Ephemeralism Is a Thing in E2EE Signal Messaging

August 27, 2021

Like that word ephemeralism. Great for some; not so great for law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

One of the worst things about the Internet is that nothing completely disappears on the Internet and stuff comes back to haunt people. Cancel culture rears its ugly head when politicians’ or celebrities’ old sexist or racist posts surface. Nothing ever exists in the moment anymore, especially when it comes to Internet conversations. Signal promises in its blog post, “Embrace Ephemerality With Default Disappearing Messages” to return the now to conversation.

Everything relating to human communication is not meant to last forever. Signal is a message designed with state of the art encryption to protect user privacy. It does not have ads, tracking, nor affiliate marketers. Signal is a non-profit organization, so it is not associated with corporations. It receives its funding from donations and grants. Signal has a new feature, where users can have their messages disappear after a set time:

“Disappearing messages provide a way to keep your message history tidy. When enabled for a conversation, messages will be deleted for the sender and recipients after the specified time. This is not for situations where your contact is your adversary — after all, if someone who receives a disappearing message really wants a record of it, they can always use another camera to take a photo of the screen before the message disappears. However, this is a nice way to automatically save storage space on your devices and limit the amount of conversation history that remains on your device if you should find yourself physically separated from it.”

Before this upgrade, disappearing messages need to be enabled for individual conversations, but now it can be set as the default. Signal also added custom timer durations.

Signal is an popular service for people who want to protect their privacy and manage space on their phones. Journalists and freedom fighters are benefit from Signal, because it allows them to protect their anonymity.

As expected, bad actors take advantage of Signal’s encryption features too. Law enforcement officials are unable to collect evidence on the bad actors and makes it difficult building a case against them.

Whitney Grace, August 27, 2021


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