Some five years ago I posted about how a chat app for iOS became an unlikely bridge for a free exchange of ideas between Mainland China and Taiwan. This summer there's a different but not dissimilar app that's proving to be indispensable for protestors in Hong Kong.

But first, a quick word from Bruce Lee:

Next, some very necessary context via this dispatch from Hong Kong:

“Be water”–a take on a famous Bruce Lee quote to be “formless, shapeless, like water”–has been a rallying cry of the leaderless protest movement since demonstrations in Hong Kong began on 9 June, but it appears to have been perfected over the past weekend.

For three consecutive days, tens of thousands of protesters took part in an amorphous protest movement that would flare up in one district only to die down and reemerge with intensity in another district a short while later.

“Be water” can feel chaotic, with people running from one train station to the next, but it is backed by a highly disciplined strategy. Protesters are often following alerts on Telegram and a website documenting police locations or protest groups needing backup.
Available for both Android and iOS, Telegram offers server to client encryption for all messages, but also a secret chat feature with client to client (aka end to end) encryption, with messages that can be set to auto-destruct after they're delivered.

The platform has proven to be a dependable tool for protestors; a massive DDOS attack believed to have originated from the mainland managed to disrupt some traffic, but only temporarily.

Sources: The Independent, Telegram FAQ, The Verge