Signal Rolls Out Usernames to Keep Phone Numbers Private

Signal Messenger Username

Secure and instant messaging app Signal has introduced a new feature called Signal usernames that allows users to connect without sharing their phone numbers, adding an extra layer of privacy.

In a recent blog post, Signal outlined how the new usernames work and the additional privacy controls being implemented to keep users' phone numbers private. 

According to the Signal, users needed to know someone's phone number to message them. Now usernames provide an alternative way to connect.

While users will still require a phone number to sign up for Signal, they can generate a unique username to share instead of their number. Usernames are not permanent handles or identifiers on Signal - they are simply a way to initiate contact without revealing a phone number.

Signal has stressed that usernames do not function like social media - they are not public or searchable. A user will need to know someone's exact username to connect with them, as there is no directory. Usernames also won't be visible on profiles or in chats.

Once these features reach everyone, both you and the people you are chatting with on Signal will need to be using the most updated version of the app to take advantage of them.

How to Create a Username on Signal Messenger

If you want to create a username, you can do so by visiting Settings > Profile

A username on Signal (unlike a profile name) must be unique and must have two or more numbers at the end of it; a choice intended to help keep usernames egalitarian and minimize spoofing. Usernames can be changed as often as you like, and you can delete your username entirely if you prefer to no longer have one.

In addition to usernames, Signal has introduced new default privacy settings to make phone numbers private. Now a user's phone number will not be displayed to new contacts by default. Only users who already have the number saved will see it.

There is also a new setting allowing users to control who can find them by their phone number. By default, anyone with a user's phone number can still look them up on Signal and send a message request. However, a "Nobody" setting prevents this, hiding the user from searching by phone number.

Signal emphasized these features are optional and users have full control over their privacy settings. Displaying a phone number, remaining findable by number, and using a username are all configurable in Signal's settings.

The privacy-focused messenger said the changes are designed to further enhance private communication. While phone numbers were previously required to connect, now users have more flexibility in how much they share.

Signal stated the new features are currently in beta but will roll out to all users universally in the coming weeks. Both parties in a conversation will need to have the latest app version to take advantage of the full functionality.

The introduction of usernames and additional privacy around phone numbers is part of Signal's core mission to provide secure private messaging. Over the years the app has also kept profiles, contacts, groups, and communications encrypted and hidden.

Making phone numbers and accounts more private has been a highly requested feature by Signal users. The app has responded by providing new options to limit sharing of personal details, reflecting its commitment to user privacy.

The post highlights that along with greater privacy, Signal has maintained its ease of use and worked to prevent more metadata collection. Usernames are not stored in plaintext and Signal says it still cannot see message contents or other account details.

While some users may need to adjust communication habits to use usernames, overall the changes represent a major expansion in Signal's privacy protections for personal information like phone numbers.

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