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How to blur faces in pictures before sending them on Signal

Signal has emerged as the messaging app of choice for millions of people who are protesting against racism and police brutality across the United States. Protesters have rushed to the encrypted chat app to ensure their communications can’t be tapped or accessed if they’re taken in custody by law enforcement agencies — propelling Signal to the top of the Android and iOS app stores.

To further buttress its utility and support protesters, Signal has rolled out a tool inside its instant messaging app that lets anyone blur out faces in pictures with a click of a button before sending them. The addition is designed for people who are actively employing Signal to share images of large-scale protests and want to continue to do so without compromising identities of the people in the photos.

Signal blur faces tool
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Signal’s new blurring tool is fairly straightforward to use:

  1. Visit the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to download the messaging app’s latest version.
  2. Once it’s installed, launch the app.
  3. Head over to the chat where you’d like to share a picture.
  4. Upload a picture by either clicking a new one with the little camera button or import from your phone’s gallery from the blue plus menu.Signal blur tool option toolbar
  5. On the next page, tap the blur option located on the right of the pen icon.
  6. Flip the switch at the bottom and Signal will automatically blur all the faces it detects in the photograph. If that doesn’t work as you’d expected it to, you can manually draw over faces to mask them.

You don’t have to limit this tool to faces either. You can take advantage of it to conceal, for instance, a piece of sensitive information in a document or an identifiable landmark to prevent disclosing your location. Hit the tick at the top right once when you’re done and press send to forward it to the contact.

Signal doesn’t save these edited files in your local gallery by default for privacy reasons. But if you want to share the blurred photo on other platforms, you can long-press sent media in the chat and tap the download button present on the row of options at the top.

Signal says the new blur tool relies on your phone’s existing system libraries, which means it doesn’t upload them to a server and all of the processing happens locally on your own device.

Wondering if Signal is better than other encrypted chat apps? Check out our Signal starter guide.

Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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