Signal hires ‘Big Tech’ critic Meredith Whitaker

Platform News: Signal private messaging app

Encrypted messaging app Signal has announced that it has hired Meredith Whitaker, the former Google manager as the inaugural President of the non-profit entity. The move adds another notable name driving the app forwards.

Whilst the likes of iMessage, WhatsApp and others operate in a market allegedly designed and built around data collection for their parent organisations Apple and Meta respectively, Signal which was founded back in 2014 by Twitter alumni Moxie Marlinspike, is run by a non-profit organization that does not seek to exploit personal data for financial benefit.

Meridith Whitaker will help direct (1) the strategy; policies; and (3) communications in the organisation. Whitaker has stated that she plans to focus on maintaining the app, which aims to support itself with small donations from millions of active users.

“It costs tens of millions of dollars to develop and maintain an app like Signal annually,” she said.

The only way to escape technology that makes money from your data is to pay for products that don’t, Whitaker says. The alternative to data collection, she said, only exists if the “community of people who depend on it starts a little bit”.

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Signal joins the likes of Firefox and Open Office as one of the few notable software apps to gain momentum being led by critics of ‘big tech’. Whitaker, who has been a member of the board of Signal since 2020, rose to prominence at Mountain View, California-based Google. Whilst there she helped draft a petition against a contract Google has signed to help the Pentagon improve computer vision for drones. She was then involved in to organising a company-wide strike to protest the mishandling of sexual harassment allegations. More recently, Federal Trade Commissioner Lina Khan appointed her as a senior advisor on AI.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Reporting by Rob Phillips.

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