Though it was not designed with the purpose in mind, FireChat was used as a communication tool in some civil protests. The app was first introduced in March 2014 for iPhones, followed on 3 April by a version for Android devices.

Off-the-grid instant messaging applications existed in as early as 2007, before the widespread adoption and availability of wireless data technologies. FireChat first became popular in 2014 in Iraq following government restrictions on internet use, and thereafter during the Hong Kong protests.In 2015, FireChat was also promoted by protesters during the 2015 Ecuadorian protests.

The developers have stated, however: "People need to understand that this is not a tool to communicate anything that would put them in a harmful situation if it were to be discovered by somebody who’s hostile”; “It was not meant for secure or private communications.”

The app does not encrypt in anyway and uses Ad-hoc so any people near them can connect and see their chat.