Aral Balkan

Got my parents to start using Wire & Signal today. Didn't set anything up for them, just asked them to install from the App Store. They were up & running in minutes. They're in their 70s. Your argument that the alternatives are difficult to use is null and void.

@aral Wire and signal may not be the alternatives we're looking for.

@drequivalent @kartoffelmos I do have relatives and friends in their late 60s and early 70s too. With WhatsApp, they managed to download the app, sign up for an account and get in touch with an incredibly large set of friends, relatives and family completely *on their own* - they just suddenly popped up as contacts without requiring any help or even us knowing they try. I'll immediately buy whichever federated solution is on par with that. ;)

@z428 @kartoffelmos

> they just suddenly popped up as contacts without requiring any help or even us knowing they try.

Currently this trick comes at very steep price. You do realize that they "pop up as contacts" only because your app has read your entire phonebook, uploaded it to the server and found your friends who did exactly the same, right?

@drequivalent @kartoffelmos Yes, the reasoning I usually hear is: "We already know our contacts phone numbers. We just want to interact with them the same way we did before. We don't want to ask for new contact data." I haven't really found a good solution to that. Signal or Wire seem to so far be the best "middle ground" but neither one offers a substantial user base for most users. Possibly that's why, surprisingly, even @EFF recommends WhatsApp for some users.

@z428 @kartoffelmos I don't recommend trusting ANYONE with your phone number. Because your phone number, combined with some privileges and connections, is both your geographic location (as well as may be your previous locations), and passport/social security data. "They" don't need much more than your phone number. And they also get a fat bonus: connections between those numbers, a.k.a your social mesh. Voila. They've got EVERYTHING on you.

@drequivalent @z428 @kartoffelmos Yes. And still, despite all these issues obvious to *us*, I still see (at least in my environment) WhatsApp use to even *increase*. So apparently our approaches to really change anything don't work out very well. Shouldn't we ask why?

@drequivalent @kartoffelmos Yes of course. But again: Which federated communication system right now would allow for said target group (60+ / 70+, technically untrained) to get in touch with their relatives same as autonomously? I don't like the way WhatsApp does that. But I even less like the fact that, in example, #xmpp appeared two decades earlier and failed to solve any of the problems WhatsApp solves to a *vast* load of users today. WhatsApp just saw that market opportunity and used it.

@aral @drequivalent @kartoffelmos Are you aware of such a project that aims at building a distributed environment usability-wise on par with WhatsApp even when talking about contact discovery (using phone numbers or local address books)? I'd gladly help funding this.

@drequivalent @aral They're both centralised, yes. But they're a lifeline right now.

@aral I've heard exactly the same statement from the users of What'sApp, Telegram and Skype so many times. "Yes, they are centralised", they say. "But they are a lifeline right now".

Wire and Signal are only alternative in that they are "not What'sApp". Otherwise they are just more of the same.

@aral Yes, got my parents to using Signal, too. My mom uses it for 2 years now and father just got his first smartphone ever and he managed to install it just fine. Same age group.

@aral I like Wire a lot but getting my friends use it is a pain.

@aral So now they can tell you their latest medications and what they ate for lunch without government snooping? Their senior hacker friends can no longer steal recipes?

@donblanco @aral I can't seem to find a live video feed of your house... Are you sure you're not running a paedophile ring from there?

(Privacy is a human right not because we have anything to hide but because when public is the default, anything you want to keep to yourself has an association of guilt attached to it. That and because in the digital/networked age, it's a prerequisite for protecting the integrity of our personhood.)

@aral ok, well since we're going there, how about "I see you two are messaging back and forth, but the messages are all encrypted. Are you sure you're not coordinating a paedophile ring?"

Further (just for fun) Signal and WhatsApp have issues:

Your parents, unless they're ex-CIA, probably have more of a threat vector with losing their smartphones. If those are locked, they're probably safe even w/out encryption :)

@aral My mom downgraded from Google Hangouts to SMS (which I have to use Google Voice to send/receive) and wouldn't install Signal becuase her phone is old and completely out of space (which is also why Hangouts stopped working).

So it went from bad to worse.

At least I have my girlfriend, most friends, and even a brother of mine all using Signal. 🤷‍♂️

But ugh. SMS. Really? 😢

@aral it’s not difficult at al to set up. Both are as easy as WhatsApp. It’s the convincing to use them that is a problem, at least in my case. People seem to believe they’re pointless, since “everyone’s using Facebook anyway”. And they won’t start using them just for me, at the end of the day.

That is awesome! Yer it's great that ethical alternatives are making their way into mainstream.

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