Encrypted messaging app Signal is rolling out a new face-blurring feature that automatically locates and blurs faces in images shared over the platform.

signal blur face
In a blog post announcing the update, Signal co-founder Moxie Marlinspike explained that the tool was a response to a surge in traffic, spurred by ongoing protests around the world against racism and poice brutality.

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.

According to Marlinspike, all processing involved in the new blur feature happens locally on the device to maintain privacy. He also cautions that the feature isn't perfect, and won't detect every face all of the time. To compensate for these flaws, Signal's image editor also includes an option to manually obscure faces and other areas of a photo with a blur brush.

blur toolbar signal
Since May 25, Signal has been setting daily download records in the U.S., according to Apptopia (via Recode). The encrypted chat app was the eighth most downloaded social networking app on Tuesday, for example, and ranked around the top 100 for all apps.

Signal Private Messenger is a free download [Direct Link] for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

robinp Avatar
50 months ago
It’s interesting that a simple image editing feature — something easily achieved in photoshop and many other apps — requires a political warning at the bottom of the post.

And then lo and behold, immediately there are really dumb comments about how bad this is or how it is no use. It can’t be both.

But image editing features are useful. And privacy is important.

You may not like people currently wanting privacy, but one day it might be you.

New features are good. People can choose whether to use them or not. If it is of no use to you then fine. If it is helpful to others then great.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Caliber26 Avatar
50 months ago
Rioters, looters, and vandals don’t deserve an iota of privacy. Expose those criminals, I say.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blackcrayon Avatar
50 months ago

Haha how will this help? To shield criminals and Antifa agitators?


Yeah I’m sure the one person who uses this will really make the difference in an era of surveillance.
To shield peaceful protesters from people (like you?) who would assume they're criminals and potentially go after them or their families.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Futurix Avatar
50 months ago

What a nice way to help Antifa.
The more that can be done to help people who are anti-FASCISM, the better. It boggles my mind that US president seemingly succeeded in making fascists / nazis seem normal and victims.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nbuubu Avatar
50 months ago
Is providing cover to people breaking the law now a virtue worthy of signalling?

(pun intended)

Are peaceful protesters seriously worried about being identified when there are drones in the sky and cameras on every corner and almost everyone supports the protests? Why do people need to shield their identities in public?

I'm really confused why this feature is needed right now / worthy of a "look at us" blog post.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nylonsteel Avatar
50 months ago
i'm for this feature
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple tv 4k yellow bg feature

When to Expect a New Apple TV to Launch

Tuesday April 9, 2024 8:30 am PDT by
It has been nearly a year and a half since the current Apple TV was released, so the device is becoming due for a hardware upgrade. Below, we recap rumors about the next Apple TV, including potential features and launch timing. The current model is the third-generation Apple TV 4K, announced in October 2022. Key new features compared to the previous model from 2021 include a faster A15...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

Alleged iPhone 16 Battery Details Show Smaller Capacity for One Model

Tuesday April 9, 2024 3:46 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup will feature bigger battery capacities compared to previous-generation models with the exception of the iPhone 16 Plus, which will have a smaller battery than its predecessor. That's according to the Chinese Weibo-based leaker OvO Baby Sauce OvO, a relatively new source of supply chain leaks with an as-yet unproven track record for accuracy. The iPhone 16 ...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...
M3 iPad Feature 3

Apple Event for New iPads Still Considered 'Unlikely' Following Delays

Tuesday April 9, 2024 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is "unlikely" to hold an event to announce new iPad Pro and iPad Air models, according to sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman already said Apple was not planning to hold an event for the new iPads, but he made this claim back in early March, before it was reported that the devices were postponed due to manufacturing delays. With the...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

iOS 18 May Feature All-New 'Safari Browsing Assistant'

Wednesday April 10, 2024 6:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 will apparently feature a new Safari browsing assistant, according to backend code on Apple's servers discovered by Nicolás Álvarez. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed that the code exists, but not many details are known at this time. Álvarez said it seems like the browsing assistant will use iCloud Private Relay's infrastructure to send relevant data to Apple in a...