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Messaging app that scrambles messages after they're sent is surging in popularity

"Use Signal." — Elon Musk

Updated: January 11, 2021 - 6:39pm

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Twitter kicked off President Trump. Parler got shut down by Google, Amazon and Apple.

The future of social media is up in the air following the riot that broke out in the Capitol on Wednesday. But one new app is surging in popularity.

Signal, a new messaging app, has been downloaded more than 30 million times in recent weeks as users search for alternatives to social networks, many of which are decidedly liberal. 

Built by a Swedish-based developer, Signal is now at the top of the Apple App Store and near the top of the Google Play Store, Fox News reports. Bit it's not like Twitter or Facebook. "The app allows users to send texts, videos, audio or picture messages with end-to-end encryption, just as they would via a normal text message," Fox writes.

"Signal’s advanced privacy-preserving technology is always enabled, so you can focus on sharing the moments that matter with the people who matter to you," the app says in its description.

In essence, the message is scrambled immediately after being sent. Even Signal can't read the message, only the recipient can see the unscrambled message. "Because everything in Signal is end-to-end encrypted, the Signal service does not have access to any of this data," the app says on its website.

Signal does not store user info, and "offers a host of other privacy features, including face-blurring, blank notification pop-ups and ephemeral messages," Fox wrote. Messages are not stored by Signal, but are instead available only on the user's device.

Just days ago, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told his millions of followers on Twitter to use the service — two words.

"Use Signal," Musk wrote on Jan. 7. 

Signal is having a tough time keeping up with demand.

"Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there," the app said on Twitter last week.

Parler, a social media platform that many right-leaning voices have been using since its founding in 2018, went dark early Monday morning as Amazon banned the site from its cloud hosting service.

CEO John Matze told Fox News that the site will try to "get back online as quickly as possible," but warned that the platform could be down for as long as a week.

"Amazon suspended Parler from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit, for violating AWS’s terms of services by failing to effectively deal with a steady increase in violent content, according to an email by an AWS Trust and Safety team to Parler, seen by Reuters," the news agency reported. "An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the letter was authentic."

Amazon said Parler presented a "very real risk to public safety."

Parler has been hit from all sides as top tech companies seek to shut it down. Google suspended the site from its app store Friday, saying Parler had failed to moderate "egregious content" posted by users.

Apple also removed the site from its app store.

"We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues," Apple said in a statement Saturday. Apple had given Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed plan to moderate its content, claiming that users used the service to coordinate Wednesday's riot at the U.S. Capitol.







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