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