FireChat is verifying users in Hong Kong, hoping to add trusted voices to its anonymous chat network

Gigaom

Off-grid messaging app FireChat is giving its users the option of lifting their anonymity and verifying their identities for other users to see. The first 15 verified accounts popped up in FireChat feed and chatrooms this week, almost all of them belonging to Hong Kong-based journalists and internet activists that have been using the app to communicate in thick of anti-government protests.

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have shone a spotlight on FireChat as a tool for dissident communications, but it’s also become a public forum for people to spread misinformation and cause panic. FireChat’s creator Open Garden is hoping this update to its Android app (a iOS update is coming shortly, Open Garden said) will help protest organizers and journalists in Hong Kong establish their credibility in a sea of anonymous messages.

Verified users will see a badge containing a check mark (similar to Twitter’s verification icons)…

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