Known for its end-to-end encryption and independent structure as a non-profit organization run by a foundation, Signal has previously been the communication method of choice for activists, people in the hacker community, and others concerned about privacy.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, recently began issuing a privacy update notification to users making clear that it is sharing user data with Facebook (which it has actually been doing for years). That’s led people to look elsewhere for a secure communications app, helped along by Elon Musk’s Jan. 7 tweet, which stated: “Use Signal.”
All You Need Is a Phone Number to Join
The signal is a free, privacy-focused messaging and voice talk app you can use on Apple and Android smartphones and via desktop. All you need is a phone number to join. You can text or make voice or video calls with friends, either one-on-one or in groups, and use emoji reactions or stickers just like in other apps. But there’s one big difference: Signal is actually really private.
Is the Signal App Secure?
Communications on Signal are end-to-end encrypted, which means only the people in messages can see those messages' content — not even the company itself. Even sticker packs get their own special encryption.
Signal Collects No Data on Its User
Yes — and that privacy goes beyond the fact that the content of your messages is encrypted. You can set messages to disappear after certain customizable time frames. Plus, Signal collects virtually no data on its users. The only information you give the app is your phone number, and the company is even working on the way to decouple that from using Signal by making encrypted contact servers. If the police come knocking to Signal for data on its users, it says, truthfully, that it has no data to hand over.
Part of the reason it collects no data is that Signal is a non-profit organization, not a for-profit company. It has no advertising, so no incentive to track users. Instead, it’s funded by grants and private investors — one of whom had a huge personal interest in making a privacy-oriented platform. Though a small group of privacy activists created Signal in 2013, it has grown in recent years. In 2018, WhatsApp founder Brian Acton donated $50 million to create the Signal Foundation, which now runs Signal. Acton got on board with the mission to make a truly private messaging service after Facebook acquired WhatsApp and Acton reportedly left the company amid clashes with Facebook over how it was eroding WhatsApp’s privacy.
Why We Should Switch to Signal?
Both Signal and WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted using the same technology. That means the content of the messages you send and calls you have are both private. However, Facebook collects lots of other information in usage statistics, metadata, and more. And there’s no longer a way to opt-out.
Although the signal does not have fancy themes and backgrounds like WhatsApp, when it comes to true privacy, there is no comparison.
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