So what’s your take are you worried?
Kevin Honestly, not really?
It is obviously not great for public safety that neo-Nazis, far-flung militias and other dangerous groups are finding ways to communicate and mobilize, and those methods include end-to-end encryption. We have seen this happen for years All the way back For ISIS, and it certainly works hard for law enforcement agencies and counter-terrorism officials.
At the same time, there is a real advantage of moving these extremists away from mainstream platforms, where they can gain new sympathy and leverage the broadcast mechanics of those platforms to spread their message to millions of potential extremists.
The way I am thinking about this is in a kind of epidemiological model. If someone is ill and is in danger of infecting others, you ideally want to get them out of the general population and into quarantine, even if it means putting them somewhere like a hospital where lots of other sick people Huh.
It’s a very bad metaphor, but you see what I mean. We know that when they are on big, mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, extremists don’t just talk among themselves. They recruit. They join completely unrelated groups and try to sow conspiracy theories there. In some ways, I would rather have 1,000 different neo-Nazis doing bad stuff together on an encrypted chat app than 1,000 different local dogspotting groups or whatever.
Brian I see where you are going with this!
When you open Facebook or Twitter, the first thing you see is your timeline, a general feed that includes posts by your friends. But you can also see strangers’ posts if your friends reshare them or like them.
When you open a signal or telegram, you see a list of conversations that you are having with people or groups of people. To get a message from someone you don’t know, that person needs to know your phone number to reach you.
So to complete our analogy, Facebook and Twitter are essentially packing billions of people into a huge auditorium. Encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram are like large buildings with millions, but each one is living inside a private room. People have to knock on each other’s doors to send messages, so it will take more effort to spread misinformation. In contrast, on Facebook and Twitter, a piece of misinformation can go viral in seconds because everyone in this auditorium can hear what everyone else is screaming.