Tor, the organization behind the eponymous private browser, has just released a beta version of its chat program. The application is cross-platform and is already compatible with many services and chat protocols including Facebook, Twitter, Jabber, IRC, Google Talk and Yahoo. Obviously, the draw of this chat program is the focus on privacy which the organization is (in)famous for.
Tor Messenger enables Off-The-Record (OTR) messaging by default, meaning that your communications are automatically encrypted and also that metadata from your conversations is obscured as it goes through the Tor network. Since you will be using established chat services, however, some data will still travel to the server side though it will not look like anything came from you. Also, Tor warns that both users need to run an OTR-ready client otherwise messages will not be sent by default. Users can choose to disable that setting but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of the app.
In addition to all that, Tor Messenger disables chat logging by default but keeps your imported contacts so you do not have to add them every time. Finally, some users may like to know that Tor Messenger is based on Instantbird, a cross-platform chat client based on Mozilla’s XULRunner. You can read ore about the development of the messenger, the reasons behind its configuration choices and how you can contribute to the project in the official Tor blog post.