In a show like House of Cards, discretion can make or break a political career. Combine strategic scheming, this caution, and secretive technology, and someone could easily rise to political power without the skeletons in their closet being exposed. In Season 5 of House Of Cards, Aiden Macallan and other characters use an app called Signal in place of texting or iMessage to keep their communications secure. So is Signal a real messaging app?
As a matter of fact, you can take a page out of your favorite fictional political players' playbook. Signal Private Messenger is an actual app available to download for iPhone and Android phones. As a secure messaging app, Signal is similar to Google's Allo and Facebook's WhatsApp.
In an article for The Intercept_, Micah Lee compared the security features of Signal, Allo, and WhatsApp, naming Signal the winner of the three. Lee wrote, "In short, if a government demands that Open Whisper Systems hand over the content or metadata of a Signal message or a user’s contact list, it has nothing to hand over."
However, in the same article, Lee acknowledges Signal's downside, "This means that if you install the Signal app, chances are you’ll have to convince your friends, family, and colleagues to install it as well before you can benefit from Signal’s top-grade privacy protection." As long as everyone you message with uses it, all of your private communications could theoretically stay private.
Of course, technology and House of Cards have always been a good match. In Season 3, Frank's obsession with indie game Monument Valley provided massive exposure. The DailyDot reported that due to the show's exposure, its downloads skyrocketed.
Conversely, the aftermath of the November election left many Americans worried about the ethics of the new administration and how that may affect their privacy. According to Marketplace.org, after Trump was elected, Signal's usage has ballooned 400 percent. In the same tech article, co-founder Moxie Marlinspike said, "Donald Trump is about to be in control of the least accountable surveillance apparatus in the history of the world. That's something that's been expanding under Obama, and I think people were comfortable with that in the sense that they trusted his personal judgment. I think people are less comfortable with how Donald Trump is going to use that." A secure messaging app like Signal could provide users with a peace of mind that is priceless in an uncertain climate.
In an interesting parallel to the House of Cards Season 5 premiere, The Hill reported that the Senate Sergeant At Arms approved Signal to be used by lawmakers and staff. In the House of Cards universe, Signal protects the Underwoods and their operatives from themselves. If Americans wish to do the same in the real world, there is, in fact, an app for that.