I expect a tool which claims to be secure to actually be secure. I don't view "but that makes it harder for the average person" as an acceptable excuse. If Edward Snowden and Bruce Schneier are going to spout the virtues of the app, I expect it to actually be secure when it matters - when vulnerable people using it to encrypt sensitive communications are targeted by smart and powerful adversaries.
Making promises about security without explaining the tradeoffs you made in order to appeal to the average user is unethical. Tradeoffs are necessary - but self-serving tradeoffs are not, and it's your responsibility to clearly explain the drawbacks and advantages of the tradeoffs you make. If you make broad and inaccurate statements about your communications product being "secure", then when the political prisoners who believed you are being tortured and hanged, it's on you. The stakes are serious. Let me explain why I don't think Signal takes them seriously. [...]
Truly secure systems do not require you to trust the service provider. This is the point of end-to-end encryption. But we have to trust that Moxie is running the server software he says he is. We have to trust that he isn't writing down a list of people we've talked to, when, and how often. We have to trust not only that Moxie is trustworthy, but given that Open Whisper Systems is based in San Francisco we have to trust that he hasn't received a national security letter, too (by the way, Signal doesn't have a warrant canary). Moxie can tell us he doesn't store these things, but he could. Truly secure systems don't require trust. [...]
And here comes the truly despicable bit:
Moxie forbids you from distributing branded builds of the Signal app, and if you rebrand he forbids you from using the official Open Whisper servers. Because his servers don't federate, that means that users of Signal forks cannot talk to Signal users. This is a truly genius move. No fork of Signal to date has ever gained any traction, and never will, because you can't talk to any Signal users with them. In fact, there are no third-party applications which can interact with Signal users in any way. Moxie can write as many blog posts which appeal to wispy ideals and "moving ecosystems" as he wants, but those are all really convenient excuses for an argument which allows him to design systems which serve his own interests.
No doubt these are non-trivial problems to solve. But I have personally been involved in open source projects which have collectively solved similarly difficult problems a thousand times over with a combined budget on the order of tens of thousands of dollars.
What were you going to do with that 50 million dollars again?
It is clear from its design and behavior that Signal's priority is to be a social network first and an encryption tool second. Growth at any cost.
Last year I gave Signal a try and it immediately spammed all of my contacts with my non-public phone number. So I was already aware that Signal is sketchy as fuck.
But abusing Trademark law to circumvent the checks and balances that open source development normally provides is just appalling. They get to pretend that it is open source, get the bullet item on the pitch sheet, get the good press associated with that, while still maintaining absolute control. It's no less a vertically-integrated, untrustworthy data silo than any product from Facebook or Google.