What is Bridgefy? Offline Texting App Hit Among Myanmar Protesters
Bridgefy allows nearby users to communicate without the need of a data network or an SMS service.
Bridgefy, an offline messaging app has been downloaded a million times in the last 24 hours in Myanmar after the country’s military seized power on Monday, 1 January, and temporarily disrupted internet services.
Myanmar has plunged back into direct military rule when soldiers detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders in a series of dawn raids on Monday, ending the country’s brief experiment with democracy.
Bridgefy also became popular in India in 2019, when internet services were suspended amid national outrage against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
What is the Bridgefy app?
Bridgefy is an offline communication app that allows nearby users to communicate without the need of a data network or SMS. Instead, the app communicates via Bluetooth.
How does Bridgefy work?
Bridgefy can connect users within the range of 330 feet. The app requires internet connection in the beginning to sync your contacts after which users can send messages to nearby users.Messages can also be sent over longer distances than the prescribed 330 feet with the help of other Bridgefy users between the sender and receiver.Users can share images, videos and live location as well. There is also a broadcast feature that allows you to communicate with nearby users even if they are not in your contact list.
Where is Bridgefy useful?
Ideally, Bridgefy can be used in scenarios where several users are gathered in one location. For instance, at concerts, sports events, or during natural disasters.Mostly offline apps are used in a protest where internet services are disrupted. However, Bridgefy becomes completely pointless if you have no other Bridegefy user within Bluetooth range.
Is Bridgefy a secure app?
Bridgefy has assured users that it uses end-to-end encryption and other security improvements to ensure safe communication. But, many researchers have uncovered flaws and weaknesses that show that just about every claim of anonymity, privacy, and reliability is outright false.According to researchers at The University of London, the Bridgefy app can be easily attacked by any moderate-skill level hackers. Some of the attacks can be decrypting and reading direct messages of the users and impersonating users to anyone else on the network.
What are the alternatives to Bridgefy?
A similar app, Firechat, uses wireless mesh networking to enable smartphones to connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi without an internet connection by connecting peer to peer. It has been used in protests in Iran and Iraq.