A photo of Jeff and James recording this episode.

Green Bubbles

James is joined by Jeff Butts, Managing Editor of The Mac Observer, to chat about messaging apps and their privacy and security, since the two are not the same thing when it comes to apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
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Show Notes

Over the last ten years or so, we’ve seen a huge growth in the number of messaging platforms. With Google recently putting massive pressure on Apple to adopt the RCS standard, I wanted to have a discussion about the security and privacy of the various platforms, especially when we compare them to plain-old SMS.

This episode came about in part due to a Twitter exchange with The Mac Observer, on the back of an article about Google’s RCS push, in which the TMO team mentioned WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as alternative messaging options. You can imagine that got me somewhat riled up, due to my very public aversion to Meta, so after a nice back and forth with Jeff we agreed to put together this episode to really explore what the various platforms have to offer and why a secure chat app may not always be a private one due to worrying metadata collection practices.

You’ll notice that we focussed mostly on messaging apps, rather than chat apps like Discord or Slack, and that’s really down to the nature of the discussion, as we’re really focussing in on ‘mobile messaging’ with your contacts rather than larger community apps.

Since recording, Sunbird has come along as a way to get iMessage up and running on Android devices. We

We’d absolutely love you to chime in on this one, as I’m sure many of you have differing views on this topic. As long as those views are civil and respectful, we’d love to hear from you, so send a note over to [email protected], leave a comment on the post, or start a discussion in Goodpods.

If you liked this episode or any of our content, we’d greatly appreciate any little bit of support you can throw our way over at our Ko-Fi page.

Episode Links

Chapter Times

  1. 00:00:04: Introductions
  2. 00:02:51: What’s Wrong With SMS?
  3. 00:06:42: Google’s Push For RCS
  4. 00:11:21: Messaging App Usage Around The World
  5. 00:15:20: Undesirables
  6. 00:17:16: Chatting In The USA
  7. 00:18:33: End To End Encryption?
  8. 00:24:32: Meta’s Products
  9. 00:25:36: The Contact Discovery Issue
  10. 00:28:23: What Do We Mean By Privacy?
  11. 00:33:04: Beware Of Metadata
  12. 00:34:26: Facebook Messenger
  13. 00:36:51: Telegram
  14. 00:38:48: Hateful Speech Online
  15. 00:40:23: The Importance Of Accountability
  16. 00:42:46: Signal Benefits
  17. 00:44:07: Privacy Nutrition Labels
  18. 00:45:02: Cross Platform Experiences
  19. 00:46:50: A Quick Viber Check
  20. 00:47:00: WeChat
  21. 00:48:28: Sensitive Content Needs E2EE
  22. 00:52:23: iMessage, Green Bubbles, Android
  23. 01:04:38: Wrapping Up


Intro and outro theme: Ace of Clubs by RoccoW

1 comment on “Green Bubbles

  1. Jae Bloom says:

    This has been a fascinating conversation. Been listening on my commute to work today.

    I stopped allowing Twitter DMs from people I wasn’t following due to some of the incredibly gross and repulsive things people send to me for being trans.

    I deactivated my TikTok and Instagram accounts because of the harassment I got there. I think proper moderation is key. A lot of harassment happens in DMs.

    On the front of what messaging apps I use: iMessage/SMS (I heavily prefer iMessage), Messenger I use sparingly, Mastodon DMs (my instance responds to blocks, and then I use WhatsApp and Signal through a Element One app bridge. I do trust iMessage’s encryption, but if I need to do something that deletes I use Signal. I wish iMessage had the ability to mark certain messages as “self-destruct”. I do like that it now lets you Undo Send and edit messages.

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