Signal Messenger is walking wounded

published Dec 03, 2020, last modified May 08, 2024

Never trust a Bioleninist. Especially not with your private messages.

Signal Messenger is walking wounded
Enemies of your privacy.

On December 1st (yesterday) Moxie Marlinspike — the creator of Signal and inventor of the Axolotl Ratchet, used by nearly all secure messenger apps on Planet Earth — was interviewed by Joe Rogan.

Signal Messenger is a fantastic product.  Signal's mission is to give people the freedom to say whatever you want to whomever wanted to hear it, the freedom to listen to whomever and whatever you want, and the ability to do so securely and privately, particularly against the wishes of the powerful.  The Signal Foundation has built an app that does exactly that, does it very well, and it's free (both as in beer, and as in freedom).  Moxie — the main person behind that app — is a brilliant man.

As you may know, Joe Rogan is not exactly liked by a certain clique.  This clique of deformed people, Communists, inferiority complex-addled individuals, and many other forms of losers on Planet Earth, is a coalition of the margins colloquially known as Bioleninists.  To give you some insight into this coalition's credo: you may have heard that some Spotify employees — no doubt Bioleninists — actually cried tears when they found out that Joe Rogan got a cool $100 million.  Imagine how much of a loser you must feel like, when you are paid over a quarter of a million dollars a year, your company just lands a contract worth a billion dollars, and you get angry and cry about it.  In sum: the Bioleninists hate Joe.

Joe isn't the only thing they hate.  The Bioleninist credo preaches hate against freedom of communications (id est, free speech).  It's fair to say they have strong wishes against you being able to say, especially not privately, certain things that they don't want you saying.  "If you are engaged in hate speech, you probably belong in prison" are not my words — they are the firm beliefs of former colleagues who were enthusiastic members of the Bioleninist coalition.  In 2020, the only things you are allowed to say, are things that conform strictly to the beliefs of the Bioleninists; say anything outside that canon, and their revenge will be clear: you may lose your job, be publicly humiliated, or worse.

One of these coalition members publicly identifies as Liz Fong-Jones; it is also a matter of public domain that Liz is a Google employee — formally of mediocre rank, yet with enormous informal power within and outside.  Let's see that power in action (here archived).

Hm.  What do we have here?

From what you can gather on this screenshot above, Liz has managed to get Meredith Whittaker into "being on it" — an expression normally used when there is a problem.

We may ask then, what exactly seems to be the problem here?  Well, the problem is easy to infer from the context: it is Moxie — a free speech advocate — chatting with Joe — another free speech advocate.  It would be a good guess, from the Twitter exchange above, that Meredith aligns with the Bioleninist credo of Liz.

So why is Meredith involved at all?  Well, few know that Meredith is on the Signal Foundation board.  She recently joined the board (a few months ago, if I recall correctly).  Meredith is a former Google employee of 13 years.  Liz, as far we can tell from the exchange above, appears to have some influence on Meredith.  And it's pretty clear both say it's not good when two free speech advocates get together to chat.

So here we have it plain and clear — an enemy of free speech is influencing another enemy of free speech — in the board of a free speech app — to do something to the founder of said free speech app.  Some might call this collusion a form of corruption.  Some might prefer to just speak of subversion.

As Signal users, you and I have the following pragmatic questions:

  1. Why does a Google employee, or a former Google employee, get any say or influence whatsoever over the founder of Signal?
  2. Since when must Signal's creator and founder comply with — or be steered by — the wishes of enemies of free ?
  3. Why are enemies of free speech attempting to influence a man devoted to enhancing free speech?
  4. What direction should we expect in the future from the Signal Foundation?

It's also troublesome that it's specifically Googlers involved in this affair — yes, the company is most likely not directly involved, but its employees and alumni are certainly wielding substantial influence in this affair.  However, while this may be troublesome, it should not surprise you.  Here is the thing: Google, over its two decades of existence, and 100,000+ employees strong, has had little interest in bringing end-to-end secured messaging to its users.  You see, encryption is good when it protects messages between Google and its users... but categorically meh when it protects messages between Google's users.  The friendly Eye of Sauron can't advertise trinkets to you, if it can't read your messages.

Signal Messenger, by contrast, doesn't read your messages; it doesn't need to, because it doesn't advertise to you at all.


Perhaps it's prudent to model the world thus: the Signal Foundation may have a mole in its board, actively working to undermine the very principles that Signal stands for.

From here on now, I will be recommending friends to set up Matrix-federated services for private communications.  They are easy to set up, they are cheap or free and they are incredibly featureful.  Matrix is, for the time being, technically inferior from a communications privacy standpoint, relative to Signal.

I hear you, "technically inferior.  Well, "technically inferior" is certainly a quality that can be overcome in one of two ways: (1) Matrix overcomes the technical inferiorities (2) People like Meredith and Liz subvert or destroy the project that people like Moxie successfully created.

In the coming weeks, we'll see what Moxie can do about it.  Chances are, he'll ultimately comply — after all, the board may always decide to axe him for his "problematic actions".

Update November 2022: uh, wait, what's this?

‘You knew full well I was a snake before you took me in.’