This whole situation makes me so sad. I was a huge proponent of Signal for a long time; “Use Tor! Use Signal!” is a meme now, but it was a genuinely good encapsulation of “good opsec” for normal people for a while. I gave symposium talks on “digital hygiene” in college, taught other activists to use Signal and encrypted mail services, and so forth.
I think that the emphasis on pragmatism is a good one, but as this article demonstrates, it can go to far. Sure, it’s nice if Signal push notifications “just work” without any configuration, like any other Android app. It’s nice if the protocol can evolve over time without consensus between multiple app developers.
But that kind of centralization a) stifles innovation in end-user app development, b) allows Moxie to make decisions like cutting off SMS support for Signal which (at least in my social circles) has dramatically decreased Signal adoption, and c) means that Signal has to employ “web scale” techniques like automated user rejection.
It’s bad, but I don’t really see many better options, and that’s really upsetting.