Signal, the cross-platform, encrypted instant messaging service, has unveiled a new Stories feature on its Android and iOS app.
In a blogpost on Monday, the platform said that ‘stories’ – a feature common on Instagram and WhatsApp – had emerged as a new way to communicate, with their own unique purposes, norms, and idiosyncrasies over the last few years. It was natural, the post further explained, for an instant messaging app to have such a feature. Stories also happen to be one of the most common feature requests Signal received from all over the world.
How will this new feature work?
According to the blog, Signal has opted for a broader way of handling the story viewing feature. Stories can be shared and viewed by everyone in a user’s phone’s contact list who uses Signal, anyone who had a 1:1 conversation with a user on Signal (even without adding a contact), anyone whose message request has been accepted in Signal. Users can also choose to manually hide their stories from specific people.
Similarly, users can also share the story with a smaller subset of people or groups and create their own custom format to keep track of who has viewed their stories. When a user shares a story with one of their pre-existing group chats, anyone in the group can see the story as well as other members’ comments and reactions to the story. One can see updates that other members share to the group story whether or not one has interacted with them directly outside of the group.
Users can share image, video, and text updates to their stories on Signal. Stories will automatically expire 24 hours after being shared, but can also be deleted before this timeframe. To do this, one has to go to settings and then to "stories" and turn off the stories to maintain utmost privacy. The aim is to have the choice to turn off stories and not broadcast them to anyone who won’t know that you have opted out of seeing the updates, the blog explains. Like everything else on the app, stories are also end-to-end encrypted.
In recent years, Signal has emerged as an interesting instant messaging option for many users looking for more privacy and stronger end-to-end encryption standards. In October last year, the private messaging app, which was also endorsed by computer analyst whistleblower Edward Snowden, saw user sign-ups soar during the extended downtime of Meta’s network of apps and services, including the WhatsApp messenger.