Protesters turn to secretive 'Signal' messaging app

App has been downloaded 32M times

An app called Signal has come into the limelight recently as people look for ways to connect in secret through a digital platform as the coronavirus pandemic keeps friends and family apart.

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The messaging app with end-to-end encryption technology works like a real conversation but on a smartphone, meaning conversations self-destruct after a certain amount of time.

"This has seen a surge in downloads, mainly due to the protests going on," Kurt Knutsson, a technology expert known on social media as "Cyber Guy," told FOX Business Network's Stuart Varney on Thursday.

Signal app displayed on iPhone (Signal.org blog)

Singal, available on Android and iOS devices, has been downloaded more than 32 million times, Knutsson said.

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The app itself recognized that protesters were using the app in a June 8 blog post announcing that it would be donating masks in packages of 50 to those who would distribute them "as one small offline way to help support everyone self-organizing for change in the streets."

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"The pros on this thing: Most secure, messages can self-destruct -- you can set it from five seconds from now to a week from now...and it works on any phone or computer, but again, you've got to have signal on both ends," he explained.

Blur-faces feature on Signal app (Signal.org blog)

The app also allows users to blur faces in photos and does not store a lot of personal information, including contacts, conversations, location, avatars and user profile names, according to its website.

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Knutsson added, however, he thinks the app is not very user-friendly and "not that easy," and those who use it regularly may be involved in illegal activity.

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