Encrypted messaging app Signal is enjoying it’s newfound attention, and is making changes to ensure it can hang on to its new users.
Signal rose to superstardom in the social media world after a tweet from Tesla founder Elon Musk in which he personally endorse Signal.
Musk has previously chastised Facebook and WhatsApp for their corporate data practices. Then a two-word tweet changed the social media landscape.
What’s New in Signal?
In Signal’s latest update, version 188.8.131.52, the app added a variety of new features including chat wallpapers. The update also includes URL link previews as well as support for animated stickers and gifs.
In addition, the Signal developers have worked to lower data usage associated with Signal calls and chats.
In December 2020, Signal also added encrypted group video calls to its expanding list of features.
After Musk’s famed tweet, the stock market went into a frenzy as a medical company, also named Signal, saw its stock suddenly shoot up more than 400%.
The Problem with Popularity
Along with its rise in popularity, however, also comes an increase in scrutiny. While it has not been announced, it appears Iran has banned the software for its residents.
Iranians began noticing problems with the app on Monday, but it was another day before they learned what happened. The Islamic republic’s filtering committee had deemed the app to be “criminal content.”
Now, when users try to visit the app in Iran, they get a message saying it was “removed by the order of the Criminal Content Designation Taskforce.”
The app was blocked by Iranian officials in January 2018, but eventually found its way off the banned list. The increased popularity, however, quickly tossed it back onto the chopping block.
Signal remains banned in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. Domain fronting was used as a workaround for several years, but has since been discontinued in most of the Middle East.