Stories are now available to everyone on Signal, allowing users of the encrypted instant messaging service to create and share images, videos, and texts that automatically expire after 24 hours.
The feature was first announced last month on the Signal community forum, where it was initially made available to Signal’s beta testers. Now, the feature is rolling out on the latest version of Signal (v6.0) for all Android and iOS users today, with desktop support “coming soon.”
Signal users will have the flexibility to dictate who can see their stories by heading into Settings > Stories. From there, users can restrict which Signal connections can view the content, either by approving select contacts and existing group chats or manually hiding stories from specific people. Anyone in existing group chats can view a shared story in addition to comments and reactions from other group members.
You can also restrict stories to specific groups, such as family members or co-workers. As with all features built into Signal, stories are end-to-end encrypted and therefore inaccessible to anyone you haven’t specified to view them — including Signal itself. Stories will automatically disappear 24 hours after sharing, and you can also manually delete them should you need to swiftly remove them.
Stories may feel like an unusual (or even annoying) addition to a service with such a strong focus on privacy and security, but Signal claims that it’s “one of the most common feature requests” from its global users. “People use them, people want them, so we’re providing a way to do stories privately. And without having to wade through a sea of ads,” says Signal community writer Nina Berman in a blog post announcing the Stories feature.
For those of you that don’t want to see other users’ stories or create and share them yourself, you can disable the feature by heading into Settings > Stories > Turn off stories. Signal won’t notify any contacts or friends that you’ve opted out of watching their stories either, so you’ll have to confess to them yourself if you’re put on the spot about any videos they think they’ve been sending your way.