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This section is intended to quickly introduce chat safety considerations through some examples of tip channels currently supported by newsrooms, followed by discussion time, and finally, hands-on installation of the Signal app. Students may need time to troubleshoot, so we encourage pairing students, and being prepared to help students if they run into trouble setting it up and sending a message.

Note: You can optionally share our chat safety handout. (To make your own editable version, select File > Make a Copy)


Threat modeling
Internet and telecommunication security

Estimated time

45-55 minutes


  • Upon successful completion of this lesson, students will be able to identify the difference between in-transit encryption and end-to-end encryption for electronic communication.
  • Students will be able to distinguish between message content and its associated metadata.
  • Students will be able to analyze the differences in the security properties of communication tools commonly used in newsrooms.

Why this matters

End-to-end encryption is one of the most effective tools for preventing unwanted surveillance of online conversations. By using end-to-end encryption, students can feel more confident that they are communicating relatively safely.


(After class)

Sample slides

Chat safety (Google Slides)


Have students pair on installing Signal and sending each other one message. Start by visiting

Note: Alternatively, you can have students send you a message. If you or your students feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a personal phone number, you'll want to set up a username in Signal. Learn more about how to keep your phone number more private with a username in our guide to locking down Signal.

Questions for discussion

  • When do you need end-to-end encryption? When might it not be necessary?
  • How might end-to-end encryption be bypassed? How might you inadvertently "leak" your encrypted messages?
  • How would you confirm your favorite chat app is end-to-end encrypted?

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