BBC News is said to have tightened its newsroom security after receiving threats against journalists from anti-lockdown or anti-vaccine groups.
The Observer reported that conspiracy groups on the messaging app Telegram had “swapped details of journalists, including their addresses, and have attempted to organise abuse.”
The report also quoted from a BBC staff memo sent out on Friday, which detailed the formation of an internal BBC group to study the safety of the news broadcaster’s employees.
BBC director of news and current affairs Francesca Unsworth said in a memo that staff should go through training for “in-person” attacks, according to the report.
“We know these attacks are more often aimed at women and journalists of colour, so we want to make sure we have particular support for those groups and are looking at what this could be,” Unsworth wrote.
Violence against journalists has been on the rise around the world, spurred in part by restrictions designed to slow the pandemic, according to Unesco.
That group published a report last September showing “a significant and growing threat to media freedom and freedom of access to information in all regions of the world.”
There’s more interest in secure and private online communication than ever. One tool used by many modern communication services is end-to-end encryption.
End-to-end encryption, explained
What makes end-to-end encryption unique is that whatever you’re sending is encrypted on your device and travels in encrypted form all the way to its destination. It’s only decrypted there so it can be read by the recipient.
The best way to understand end-to-end encryption is in contrast to a more traditional system called encryption-in-transit. Typically, if a service uses encryption, it will be encrypted on your device and sent to the server. There, it is decrypted for processing, then re-encrypted and sent on to its final destination. The data is encrypted anytime it’s in transit, but decrypted when it’s “at rest.” This protects the information through the most critical part of the trip – in transit – when it’s often most vulnerable to hackers, interception, and theft.
In contrast, end-to-end encryption is the act of applying encryption to the data on your device and not decrypting it until it reaches the destination. Even the service that is sending the data can’t see the content of your message when it passes through the server.
This is important because end-to-end encryption can give you the confidence that your communication is safe from prying eyes. In addition to simple two-way text chats, you might want to ensure that financial transactions and business communication use end-to-end encryption.
Advantages of end-to-end encryption
End-to-end encryption has some obvious advantages over “cleartext” (when messages or data are sent without any encryption at all) and encryption-in-transit. It’s protected every step of the way, for one example.
When an app uses encryption-in-transit, that means the service you’re using owns the key to encrypt and decrypt the message at the server. That provides a point of vulnerability and a vector for hackers or malicious actors to intercept your information before it travels to its destination.
Disadvantages of end-to-end encryption
But end-to-end encryption isn’t the perfect solution to every kind of communication need. If an app’s communication is fully encrypted, that can prevent the app from offering additional features like contextual services based on the content of the message, or the ability to automatically generate calendar invites, message history, and other additional features. Simply put, the data is a black box to everyone except the sender and receiver, which might not always be desirable.
The security that end-to-end privacy offers might be limited if a third party gets physical access to the device at either end of the transmission – not only can they read existing messages, but also send new ones. That’s why it’s critical to use passwords, passcodes or biometrics to protect access to your device.
While end-to-end encryption can prevent anyone (including, in general, the government and law enforcement) from reading the content of your messages, it doesn’t hide or encrypt the metadata. That means it’s possible to determine who you sent messages to, and when, even if the content is encrypted.
Apps that use end-to-end encryption
If you’re looking to get started with end-to-end encryption, here are some apps and services that offer it:
You can get end-to-end encryption with email, as well. Here are a few apps that feature end-to-end encryption, though be forewarned that configuring the encryption is not straightforward, relies on a fairly deep understanding of how public and private keys work, and often requires both users using the same mail app to get the benefits of end-to-end encryption. Bottom line: Using encrypted email requires a substantial investment, much more so than messaging apps.
Many messaging apps allow you to include stickers in conversations with your friends and family. Telegram, a popular secure messaging app, is unique in that it actually lets you upload and use your own stickers in conversations.
You can create sticker packs and show them off as much as you want. Here’s how to make stickers and use them in your Telegram conversations.
How to make Telegram stickers
Before you can create Telegram stickers, you’ll need image editing software that lets you create PNG files with transparent backgrounds. Adobe Photoshop is the most popular image editing software out there, but if you’re looking for something less expensive, you can poke around the internet for a free alternative – we used GIMP in this instance, and there are plenty of other options available as well.
There are a few rules you need to keep in mind when designing Telegram stickers:
Telegram stickers must be PNG files with a transparent background.
Telegram stickers cannot be larger than 512 x 512 pixels.
Telegram stickers cannot contain copyrighted material (such as images or quotes from popular media).
The process of creating a transparent background for your sticker varies depending on the software you’re using, but in general, you’ll need to add an “alpha channel” to the background in order to create transparency. Once you’ve added an alpha channel, anything you erase or delete in that layer will become transparent, represented by a white and gray checkerboard pattern. With this, you can edit the image to your liking and save it as a PNG file once you’re done.
Just remember that once you’ve made and published a pack of stickers (as we show how to do below), the stickers are public for everyone on Telegram. So if there’s anything in your stickers that you’re not alright with strangers seeing, leave them out.
How to add and use your sticker pack in Telegram
After you’ve created your sticker pack, you’ll need to upload them to Telegram before you can start using them in a chat. To do this, you’ll have to contact the Telegram sticker bot.
1. Open the Telegram app and log in if prompted.
2. Tap on the search bar and type “stickers,” then tap on the Telegram sticker bot once it appears. This will create a new conversation with the sticker bot; tap “Start” to begin.
3. Type “/newpack” (without quotation marks) into the message bar and tap the blue arrow to send the message.
4. Type a name for your sticker pack in the message bar and tap the blue arrow.
5. Now it’s time to upload your first sticker. Tap on the paperclip icon in the message bar, then tap “File,” and then select the sticker you want to upload.
6. Use the emoji keyboard to type and send an emoji that applies to the sticker you just uploaded. This helps the sticker bot categorize the stickers.
7. Repeat steps five and six for each sticker you want to include in the sticker pack. Once you’ve finished adding stickers, type “/publish” (without quotation marks) into the message bar and tap the blue arrow.
8. Telegram will give you the option to upload an icon for your sticker pack. If you choose to do so, the icon must be 100 x 100 pixels. This isn’t required, though, so if you want to skip this step, just type “/skip” (without quotation marks) into the message bar and tap the blue arrow.
9. Type a short name for your sticker pack and tap the blue arrow. This will be included in the URL that Telegram creates so that you can share the sticker pack. If a short name has already been taken or isn’t usable, Telegram will ask you to choose a different one.
10. Telegram will send you a link for your sticker pack. Tap on the link, then tap “Add Stickers” to download the sticker pack. You can also share the link with your friends so that they can use your stickers as well.
11. Now that you’ve created and downloaded your sticker pack, you’ll be able to include them in messages like any other sticker. Start a conversation with a friend and give it a try.
For the last 20-plus years, email has become the standard form of communication for reaching out to clients. Ask any marketer for the last 10 years in particular, and they’ll say one of the top things a business should focus on is building their (email) list.
Snail mail is just too slow, and this increasingly-fast paced world makes a classic phone call unrealistic – what, are you going to call each person individually on your list? Or worse, are you going to have an automated bot interrupt their day with a phone call that is devoid of actual communication?
But now, email too is reaching a ceiling. Is your email going to their SPAM folder? Is it going to their “junk” email address that they use to sign up for all the mailing lists? Is it getting lost between an advertisement from their favorite clothing store and a digital copy of their phone bill?
I don’t think it’s time for us to throw away email entirely – especially not when it comes to communicating information to your warm audience – but if you’re really trying to maintain contact with your existing customers, you might want to try one of these increasingly popular options.
Everyone in the B2B world knows about Slack by now – and for a good reason. Slack’s no-nonsense interface is perfect for communicating with all your clients at once, or sending messages to people in specific groups by sorting them into different Channels. If you love the flexibility of list segmentation, you’ll appreciate the functionality of Slack.
I personally like using Slack as my general hub for connecting with my mastermind clients. We have different Channels for asking questions, for sharing wins, and for my team to make announcements that everyone needs to see. I’ve also created private Channels for each member to have direct access to me and my team, for scheduling calls, and sharing documents that don’t need to be shared with the whole group.
Even better? Slack can be used three ways: In your browser, in a Desktop app, or with a mobile app.
This one has its pros and cons, but it’s definitely a contender worth discussing! While most people choose to use Facebook Groups as a strategy for growing a free community of warm leads – you could just as easily use a Facebook Group as the home of your paid community.
On the plus side, a Facebook Group offers you a lot of different ways to communicate with the people inside your community. Live videos, photos, GIFs, polls, posts – your options are nearly limitless. And with Facebook giving you the ability to create modules and lessons inside Groups, you could easily sell and host an entire group program or online course inside a Facebook Group (saving you hundreds, even thousands, a year in course hosting fees using a system like Teachable or Thinkific).
Of course, the obvious downside of this option is that you have to have a Facebook account in order to join a Group, and your clients may not have a Facebook account. (Give “people leaving Facebook” a quick search – there’s a lot of movement away from the platform right now.)
Telegram and Voxer
These two apps are nearly identical in terms of functionality: They’re both messenger apps that give you the ability to send and receive voice messages in real time, like a walkie-talkie. You can use these like a classic one-to-one personal message, or you can create a group message that includes everyone on one thread.
While Voxer is more basic in its very orange UI, Telegram is going to be the prime choice for creatives and millennials who value personalization and expression.
I personally like using these kinds of apps for communicating with my top-level clients, who get more intimate, personal access to me. They love getting to hear my “off the cuff” thoughts on different things that they’re encountering in their business without having to wait for a formal group call or one-on-one session, and I love getting to share my insights in a quick, efficient way that can also benefit the other clients in this group who may have the same struggles or questions.
Instagram Close Friends
This one might be a surprising choice, but it’s growing in popularity as an alternative to Facebook Groups. You won’t be able to host a course for free on Instagram like you can with a Facebook Group, but you can still create a fun, exclusive place for your customers to stay in the loop.
I’ve seen this strategy work best for digital creators, in particular, such as podcasters or YouTubers. Using something like Patreon to collect membership fees from your audience, you can have each user fill out a quick Google form to get their Instagram handle upon signing up to get access to your exclusive content. After that, you’ll go to your Instagram Settings, tap on “Close Friends,” and from there you can hit the + to add new accounts to your Close Friends list. You don’t even have to follow an account to add them to your list!
This is a fun way to take something you’re already doing (creating content) for an audience who is already there consuming it, and monetizing it!
Telegram is a popular cross-platform messaging app that is widely used because it offers some enhanced privacy and encryption features as well as support for large group chat features. It also has no ties to other social media platforms (both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook, for example), which makes the service more appealing to some.
Employees at encrypted-messaging app Signal are worried that an explosion in growth – prompted by users moving over from rival WhatsApp – could cause extremism to spread on the platform, according to a new report from The Verge.
An engineer called Gregg Bernstein, who left Signal this month, told the Verge that Signal’s CEO Moxie Marlinspike was worryingly passive at the prospect of extremists using the platform to organize.
“It’s not only that Signal doesn’t have these policies in place. But they’ve been resistant to even considering what a policy might look like,” said Bernstein.
He said that after President Donald Trump told the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” Marlinspike was asked at a company all-hands meeting how Signal planned to prevent extremists from organizing on the app.
“The response was: if and when people start abusing Signal or doing things that we think are terrible, we’ll say something […] You could see a lot of jaws dropping. That’s not a strategy – that’s just hoping things don’t go bad,” Bernstein said.
Signal is backed by the nonprofit Signal Foundation, which was started in 2018 with a $50 million loan by WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, and is popular among activists and dissidents for its rigorous approach to privacy.
A trade-off of strong privacy practices is that apps are less able to track and moderate harmful behavior. Marlinspike told the Verge he wanted to take a hands-off approach to moderating the app because it was a messaging platform, not social media.
“The overriding theme there is that we don’t want to be a media company. We’re not algorithmically amplifying content. We don’t have access to the content. And even within the app, there are not a lot of opportunities for amplification,” he said.
Marlinspike said he believed the benefit Signal gives to activists and dissidents outweighed the risk that extremists might use it.
“I want us as an organization to be really careful about doing things that make Signal less effective for those sort of bad actors if it would also make Signal less effective for the types of actors that we want to support and encourage […] Because I think that the latter have an outsized risk profile. There’s an asymmetry there, where it could end up affecting them more dramatically,” he said.
Downloads of the app surged after WhatsApp informed users of changes to terms of service related to messaging business accounts. WhatsApp scrambled to explain that its data sharing practices with Facebook, its parent company, weren’t changing, and that the new terms and conditions did not affect messaged to friends and family – but by then many users had already downloaded Signal.
Signal isn’t the only encrypted messaging app facing accusations of inaction over hate speech.
Former US ambassador Marc Ginsberg on Monday filed lawsuits against Apple and Google, petitioning them both to boot encrypted messaging app Telegram – which also received a big user boost from the WhatsApp exodus – off their app stores.
Ginsberg said the platform had harbored extremists, and pointed to the fact both Apple and Google banned Parler, a social media app popular with the far-right, from their stores.