The recent influx of millions of Signal users, and its subsequent temporary outage, caused many users to briefly move their communications to other platforms. Many alternatives were adopted to take on the task such as Telegram and good old fashioned e-mail and SMS. This event has highlighted the necessity to develop alternates and contingencies in case primary communications are knocked out. (Research “PACE plan”)
Matrix is another such network which addresses two of Signal’s most commonly cited shortcomings: Centralization, and the use of phone numbers for user ID.
Matrix is what the network is called, but there are several clients available to use it. Probably the best one out there is called Element (formerly Riot.im).
Matrix is also decentralized. When signing up, most people tend to create an account at Matrix.org, although there are many other Matrix servers that all federate with each other, as well as some that are isolated. It is no small task, but a resourceful and willing organization could even run the Matrix software on its own server for only its members to use.
Rather than requiring a phone number to create an account, Matrix only needs a username. Email addresses and phone numbers are optional. Users are searchable. Handles are in the format @username:homeserver.com
Until the recent addition of Admin roles and the ability to remove members from groups, this was another advantage that Matrix had over Signal.
Matrix lets you create Public or Private rooms, as well as direct messages.
It’s important to note that Matrix does not encrypt new rooms by default. You have to toggle the “Enable encryption” switch when you create a room.