Signal tests usernames that keep your phone number private

Good news, Signal is pushing out the use of usernames. Sounds like you still need to tie your phone number to the app but you don’t need to share your number to anyone.

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Well that’s somewhat promising but it’s a shame that you’ll still need the phone number. Hopefully that’ll go away as a requirement later on. This sentence from the official forum post makes me somewhat hopefull of that.

These early builds are designed to proactively crash if it appears that anything has gone wrong under the hood, since we’re changing the fundamental way that accounts are identified in the Signal ecosystem.

Also seems like the Firebase signup is already maxed out so they’ve realeased a direct APK for those that want test it on Android:

UPDATE: We didn’t anticipate this much interest in the test, and it’s filling up all of our tester slots in Firebase App Distribution! So, we’ve now made these builds available via a direct download link to an APK here too. As some of you have noticed, this version of the app already has an auto-update mechanism built in. You can also check for updates via Settings > App updates in these releases. Note that the auto-update stuff is also a pre-release feature that’s not fully ready for primetime, but hopefully it works well enough!

https://updates.signal.org/static/android/nightlies/pnp/Signal-Android-nightly-pnp-universal-release-6.41.0-nightly-2023-11-13-16-00-20.apk

Also a question for you guys.

With the account still being tied to your phone number for the foreseeable future, and therefore you, have any of you given thought to how anonymous you’ll make your username?

According to the post (unless I’m missunderstaning) you’ll be able to use your phone number and user name interchangeably, thus allowing you to have one public and one anonymous persona with the same account.

Please test creating usernames, sharing username links, modifying the sharing settings for your phone number, and inviting people to groups by username and by phone number alike.

Which could be rather nice, not having to use different apps again (like how it used to be in ye olde days when SMS was still around :smiling_face_with_tear:).

On the other hand, that does increase the risk quite a bit of cross contaminating your compartmentalisation, potentially making the privacy gain from using an anonymous user name null and void.

And since there are several good alternatives which are anonymous already, is it perhaps a moot point? But then, why bother with usernames at all? Is Signal that much more secure?

I’d appreciate your thoughts fellas.

Signal is not “tied” to a phone number in the way that the authorities can go to Signal and ask for your number, they come to Signal with your number and ask for your account details and then they get nothing (except date of account creation and last login).

Signal asks for a telephone number on account creation mainly to combat bots/spam and until usernames get added it is intended for use with your friends/family, i.e. people you would give your number to anyway.

If you want to use Signal with full anonymity you would need to use burner phones.

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Phone Numbers will continue to be required to sign up, this is referring to no longer using phone numbers or hashes of phone numbers to identify users on Signal internally. Usernames for signup probably aren’t coming if I were to guess

Source for this was on their blog when they first changed how verifying worked to reflect this change.

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