Blur tools for Signal

moxie0 on 03 Jun 2020

The Signal app displaying the new blur interface in the image editor.

Right now, people around the world are marching and protesting against racism and police brutality, outraged by the most recent police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. At Signal, we support the people who have gone into the streets to make their voices heard. We believe that something in America needs to change, and even if we don’t know exactly how, we support and trust in the people who are self-organizing around the country to figure it out.

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.

A close-up of the blur button in the image editor.

This update has already been submitted to the app stores, and it will begin rolling out as soon as possible.

Blurring the lines

The new blur feature leverages the latest system and platform-level libraries for Android and iOS. In order to maintain your privacy, all of the processing happens locally on your own device.

These system libraries are not perfect. They don’t detect every face 100% of the time, and these flaws and potential biases meant that it was important to extend their default functionality so that you can always draw with the blur brush to manually obscure additional faces or areas in a photo.

Encrypt your face

We want to do something outside of the app too, so we’ll be distributing versatile face coverings to the community free of charge. We’ve been working to find a manufacturer capable of producing high volumes of face coverings in the current global circumstances. We’re finalizing a few remaining details and will provide more information soon.

A mock-up of a face covering on a stylized hand-drawn avatar.

Speak freely. Stay safe. Send a message.