Signal announces support for usernames to hide your phone number

Signal, the popular messaging app, is introducing usernames to its platform. This optional feature allows you to connect with others without revealing your phone number, enhancing privacy on the app.

As announced today in its blog, Signal users will be able to head to their settings and select “Profile” to create a unique username. The app will then allow its users to share said username by either generating a shareable QR code or a link. Alternatively, users can connect by typing your username into the new chat bar.

Source: Signal

Traditionally, Signal required the use of a phone number in order to register for an account and use its features. This translated to having to reveal your phone number to others that you exchanged messages with. While the app will still require a phone number in order to create an account, you will now have the option to shield it and instead use a username as your alias.Signal is also rolling out other security features, such as the ability to restrict who can find you using your phone number. This means you can prevent people from messaging or calling you on Signal, even if they know your phone number and know you have an account. Additionally, the app will now hide your phone number by default if users don’t already have it in their contact list. You can change this setting within Privacy > Phone Number > Who can see my number.

These privacy-focused additions come after Signal began testing usernames last fall. Should you choose to go the route of creating a username, that also wouldn’t be visible on your profile details page or in chats unless you actively share it. As Randall Sarafa, Signal’s Chief Product Officer, explains, “Someone will need to know your exact unique username in order to start a chat with you on Signal.”

While these features bolster privacy, Signal is aware of the potential for impersonation and emphasizes safety features like comparing safety numbers for verification. Currently, these features are only available in the beta version of the app, but will be rolling out to everyone in a few weeks. Your move WhatsApp!