Briar User Manual

What is Briar?

Briar is a messaging app designed for activists, journalists, and anyone else who needs a safe, easy and robust way to communicate. Unlike traditional messaging apps, Briar doesn't rely on a central server - messages are synchronized directly between the users' devices. If the internet's down, Briar can sync via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, keeping the information flowing in a crisis. If the internet's up, Briar can sync via the Tor network, protecting users and their relationships from surveillance.

Installation

Briar is available on Google Play for devices running Android.

Tip: If you're not sure whether you have an Android device, check whether it has the Play Store app. If it does, it runs Android.

If you have an Android device but you prefer not to use Google Play, the Briar website has instructions for installing the app via F-Droid or direct download.

Creating an Account

Creating an account

The first time you open Briar you'll be asked to create an account. You can choose any nickname and password. The password should be at least 8 characters long and hard to guess.

Warning: Your Briar account is stored securely on your device, not in the cloud. If you uninstall Briar or forget your password, there's no way to recover your account.

Tap "Create Account". When your account has been created you'll be taken to the contact list.

Adding Contacts

The contact list

To add a contact, tap the plus icon at the top of the contact list.

Adding a contact, step 1

You must meet up with the person you want to add as a contact. Each of you will scan a QR code from the other person's screen. This ensures you're connecting to the right person, so nobody else can impersonate you or read your messages.

Tap "Continue" when you're ready to start.

Adding a contact, step 2

Line up your contact's QR code in the viewfinder. You may have to wait a few seconds for the camera to focus.

When the camera has scanned the QR code you'll see the message "Waiting for contact to scan and connect". Now your contact should scan your QR code.

The contact list showing a newly added contact

Your devices will exchange information, and after a few seconds you'll be added to each other's contact lists. Congratulations! You're ready to communicate securely.

Messaging

A private messaging conversation

To send a private message, tap a contact's name in the contact list.

Tip: All messages in Briar are end-to-end encrypted, so nobody else can read them.

If your contact is offline, your message will be delivered next time you're both online.

Introducing Contacts

Starting an introduction

You can introduce your contacts to each other through Briar. This allows them to become contacts without having to meet up. To start an introduction, tap a contact's name in the contact list and choose "Make Introduction" from the menu.

Choosing the second contact

Next, choose the other contact you want to introduce.

Adding a message to both contacts

Add an optional message to the contacts, then tap "Make Introduction".

An introduction request

Your contacts will see a message asking them whether they accept the introduction. If they both accept they'll be added to each other's contact lists and they'll be able to communicate securely.

Private Groups

The main menu showing the private groups feature selected

You can use Briar for group chats with your contacts. To create a group, open the main menu and choose "Private Groups". The private group list will open. Tap the plus icon to create a new group.

Creating a private group, step 1

Choose a name for your group, then tap "Create Group".

Creating a private group, step 2

Next choose the contacts you'd like to invite to join the group. Press the checkmark icon when you're done.

Creating a private group, step 3

Add an optional message to the chosen contacts, then tap "Send Invitation". The contacts will see a message inviting them to join.

The private group list showing a newly created group

The new group will be added to your private group list. This list shows all the groups you belong to.

A conversation in a private group

Messages in private groups are organized into threads. Any member can reply to a message or start a new thread.

The creator of the group is the only one who can invite new members. Any member can leave the group. If the creator leaves, the group is dissolved.

Forums

The main menu showing the forums feature selected

A forum is a public conversation. Unlike a private group, anyone who joins a forum can invite their own contacts.

To create a forum, open the main menu and choose "Forums". The forum list will open. Tap the plus icon to create a new forum.

Creating a forum

Choose a name for your forum, then tap "Create Forum".

The forum list showing a newly created forum

The new forum will be added to your forum list. This list shows all the forums you belong to.

Sharing a forum, step 1

To share a forum with your contacts, tap the forum to open it, then tap the sharing icon.

Sharing a forum, step 2

Next choose the contacts you'd like to share the forum with. Press the checkmark icon when you're done.

Sharing a forum, step 3

Add an optional message to the chosen contacts, then tap "Share Forum". The contacts will see a message inviting them to join.

A conversation in a forum

Messages in forums are organized into threads. Any member can reply to a message or start a new thread.

Any member of a forum can invite new members, and any member including the creator can leave the forum. The forum continues to exist until the last member leaves.

Blogs

The main menu showing the blogs feature selected

Your Briar account has a built-in blog. You can use it to post news and updates about your life. Your blog is automatically shared with your contacts, and their blogs are shared with you.

To read your contacts' blogs or write a post, open the main menu and choose "Blogs".

Writing a blog post, step 1

To write a post, tap the pen icon at the top of the blog feed.

Writing a blog post, step 2

Write your post and tap "Publish".

The blog feed showing a newly created post

Your new post will appear in the blog feed.

Reblogging a post, step 1

To reblog a post, tap the reblog icon at the corner of the post.

Reblogging a post, step 2

Add an optional comment and tap "Reblog".

Reblogging a post, step 3

The reblogged post will appear in the blog feed with your comment attached.

RSS Feeds

You can use Briar to read any blog or news site that publishes an RSS feed. The articles are downloaded via Tor to protect your privacy. You can reblog and comment on articles from RSS feeds, just like you can with blog posts.

Tip: RSS is a way for websites to publish articles in a form that's easy to republish.

Importing an RSS feed, step 1

To import an RSS feed, open the blog feed and choose "Import RSS Feed" from the menu.

Importing an RSS feed, step 2

Enter the URL of the RSS feed and tap "Import". The articles will be downloaded and added to the blog feed. This can take a few minutes.

The blog feed showing a newly imported RSS article

When new articles are published, Briar will download them automatically. Imported articles are not shared with your contacts unless you choose to reblog them.

Managing RSS feeds, step 1

To manage your RSS feeds, open the blog feed and choose "Manage RSS Feeds" from the menu.

Managing RSS feeds, step 2

Tap the trash icon to remove a feed. The imported articles will be removed from the blog feed, except for any articles you've reblogged.

Deleting Contacts

Deleting a contact

To delete a contact, tap the contact's name in the contact list and choose "Delete contact" from the menu.

Tip: To protect your privacy, the contact won't be notified that you've deleted them. They'll just see you as offline from now on.