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In a previous post, I have argued that all EAs should solely use Signal: 

  • "Facebook Messenger is dangerously insecure. It only takes one data breach of one insufficiently careful EA to harm the movement. Thus, all EAs should use Signal instead of Facebook Messenger for their internal messages."

Since then, I have collected from other EAs frequently asked questions, tricks, and things to keep in mind when using Signal.

These can be found in a shared Dropbox link here, as well as below:

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How to use Signal

By and for the EA community


How to invite people to a groupchat?

Send an invite link. Or, either (1) print out, (2) send, or (3) show on your phone screen a QR code.


When I'm running an EA party, I print out a QR code and write on the paper "Use the default phone camera app." I then put this paper next to the publicly posted Wi-Fi password. This gets people to use the default camera app to access the QR code, thereby joining the groupchat.


I only know someone’s name. How do I add them to a Signal groupchat? 

If you must, you can use Facebook Messenger solely to find someone by their name, and send them the Signal invite link.


How to move message history between devices?

For moving message history from your primary (mobile) device to your new primary device: https://support.signal.org/hc/en-us/articles/360007059752-Backup-and-Restore-Messages

For moving message history from desktop to desktop, there is no official way yet endorsed by Signal developers. But there are unofficial ways (that I have yet to test myself, and would be great to test! Please let us know if you tried this method either successfully or unsuccessfully.)

Moving chat history from Windows to Windows: https://www.reddit.com/r/signal/comments/s93756/is_there_way_i_can_move_over_my_chat_history_from/htllhog/?context=8&depth=9

Moving chat history from Mac to Mac: https://www.reddit.com/r/signal/comments/lbnzg7/comment/hifd8tj/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3


I can add up to 1000 people to each Signal groupchat! Should I?

For connecting EAs, it can be worth it. But if you are just passing the Invite link or QR code around to 1000 people, you can’t really keep track of who is actually in your groupchat. 

For very large groupchats (announcements, etc.), assume someone can leak the messages at any time. Be careful about what you post.

For small groupchats (EA orgs, houses, parties), make sure you keep track of everyone who has joined the groupchat, say by periodically checking the list of people in it. 

Also, either (1) close the invite link after it’s not needed or (2) make admin approval required for joining the groupchat.


How to not tie your phone number to Signal?

Use a temporary phone number to make the Signal account:

Details here: https://techlearningcollective.com/2019/10/29/this-little-known-trick-lets-you-use-signal-without-giving-out-your-phone-number.html


Infinite scroll bug. When I scroll down, it keeps resetting upwards. 

Click icon at lower right corner.




Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Thank you for these instructions, which I just followed to install Signal on both my phone and my computer. I regret to say that I'm quite disappointed with this app, and won't be migrating to it. I appreciate that Signal is more secure than the alternatives, but security is only one dimension, and Signal scores poorly on most of the other dimensions I care about.

Currently, based on my experience with Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, I consider Telegram to be the best messaging app by a significant margin. FWIW, about a year or so ago I felt dissatisfied with Messenger and WhatsApp, and contacted my closest EA friends to suggest a migration to Telegram. They were receptive to the proposal and now we all use that app exclusively to communicate with each other.

Some of the reasons I like Telegram: 

  • rich text editor, with support for italics, boldface, strikethrough, code, hyperlinks
  • editable messages
  • fast and powerful search
  • support for polls, both public and anonymous
  • client-server/server-client encryption, with optional support for end-to-end encryption (which strikes a good balance between security and convenience)
  • 2x speed on voice messages
  • (premium version) text transcription of voice messages
  • (irrelevant to most people) excellent Emacs client

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Pablo! I really appreciate it.

Some reasons for the EA community as a whole to use Signal over Telegram:

  1. End-to-end encryption is by default (in Telegram, you have to enable it manually, and you might forget to do so)

  2. The code is open-source (Telegram’s is proprietary and thus could have security vulnerabilities or backdoors)

  3. Signal proactively protects your metadata, and your privacy in general

A couple of clarifications:

  • All Telegram client apps are open source, and licensed under GPLv3. Only Telegram's server-side source code is proprietary.
  • End-to-end encryption is not necessarily a net positive: as discussed in the link above, it carries some costs over client-server/server-client encryption. Arguably, it's better to give the user the option to decide when to use which, based on their weighing of the respective pros and cons, than to always enforce one option over the other.

A quick update: as far as I was able to tell, Telegram doesn't support secret group chats (protected by end-to-end encryption), so I now use Signal for sensitive group messaging. I still prefer Telegram overall, which is my main messaging app, but I also think that Signal is far superior to Messenger and WhatsApp. I wanted to share this update because my earlier comments may suggest that I have a much more negative opinion of Signal than I in fact do.

2x speed on voice messages

Just tested, and Signal in fact has this feature.

I'd also add in Telegram's favour

  • Web based client (https://web.telegram.org/) whereas Signal requires an installed app for some (frustrating) reason

and in Signal's favour

  • Any emoji reaction available (Telegram you have to pay for extra reacts) [this point leads me to worry Telegram will become more out-to-get-me over time]
  • Less weird behaviour (e.g. in Telegram, I can't react to images that are sent without text & in some old group chats I can't react to anything)


(I am neither a fan of Signal not Telegram, but wanted to add to the list. I haven't seen Element discussed at all and weakly prefer it over both Signal and Telegram)

e.g. in Telegram, I can't react to images that are sent without text & in some old group chats I can't react to anything

You can react to images without text. But you need to tap on the side of the image, since tapping on the image itself maximizes it. (I agree this behavior is somewhat unintuitive.)

The absent reactions in old chats is because admins have the option of allowing or disallowing reactions, and since the group chats were created before reactions were introduced, Telegram doesn't assume admins agreed to allow them; instead, they have to be enabled manually.

You can react to images without text. But you need to tap on the side of the image, since tapping on the image itself maximizes it

Thanks, this is useful to know!

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