Tool Review: Vibe Messaging

Posted by MelissaLoudon on Dec 22, 2011

Vibe burst onto the scene following reports that protesters were using it to coordinate with each other at the recent Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and camps.

As a smartphone app for anonymous broadcast messaging, Vibe is going after an important idea. In fact, it’s been promoted as an anonymous version of Twitter. Anyone with the app can post - there are no accounts - and users are able to limit the lifetime of the messages (from a few minutes to a few days) and the location to which they are broadcast (from a few meters to anywhere).

Vibe is clearly a useful tool. Some of the ways it has apparently been used include asking anonymous questions at a conference, and communicating with neighbours about local events. The ‘anonymity’ of not having to create an account may be perfectly adequate for these situations. However, when it comes to its use by activists - where it is being promoted as an appropriate tool for people with serious security implications should their identify be revealed - we need to delve deeper into promises of anonymity.

In the case of Vibe, our analysis revealed some serious concerns. Some of these have come up in other reviews as well.