Signal Introduces Usernames, Allowing Users to Keep Their Phone Numbers Private

21.02.2024

 

Signal, the end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) messaging app, has announced the testing of a new feature that enables users to create distinct usernames, separate from their profile names, providing an added layer of privacy by concealing phone numbers from unauthorized access.

According to Randall Sarafa from Signal, “If you use Signal, your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone you chat with by default.” However, individuals who already have your number saved in their contacts will still be able to see it.

To establish a new username, users must append two or more numbers at the end (e.g., axolotl.99), aiming to maintain an egalitarian approach and minimize the risk of spoofing. Users have the flexibility to change usernames multiple times. It’s important to note that these usernames are not used as logins or handles but serve as an anonymous means to initiate conversations without the need to disclose phone numbers.

The new feature is opt-in, allowing users to choose whether to enable it. Signal has also implemented measures to automatically conceal users’ phone numbers from those who do not have the numbers saved in their phone contacts.

Furthermore, users have the ability to manage who can discover them by their phone numbers through additional privacy settings. This includes the option to restrict messaging from individuals even if they possess the user’s phone number.

In summary, Signal is introducing a username feature that enhances user privacy by defaulting to hide phone numbers from chat participants, with the added ability for users to control who can find them based on their phone numbers.

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