Ready to quit WhatsApp? Here are top 6 reasons why you should download Signal instead
Signal is used by journalists, activists, lawyers, researchers, dissidents, politicians, and security experts around the world. And the main reason for that is - top notch security. You need more reason to shift? Read on…
WhatsApp’s long-term users will remember that the service pushed the envelope on security and privacy when it switched on end-to-end encrypted messaging (scrambling your messages so not even WhatsApp can read them) for all users in 2016. The company partnered with Open Whisper Systems, creators of the most reliable form of message encryption available today, the Signal Protocol and the Signal Private Messenger.
However, the app has come a long way since then, with founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton quitting the company citing privacy disagreements with Facebook. On Thursday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal” to his 41.6 million followers - five hours later, the app’s official Twitter handle reported delays in delivery of verification codes as several users started signing up.
Use Signal— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
Signal is used by journalists, activists, lawyers, researchers, dissidents, politicians, and security experts around the world. But here’s why you should be using Signal over WhatsApp, even if you only want to send the Wi-Fi password to your roommate or a photo of your nephew to your grandmother:
1. It isn’t owned by a big corporation
Signal Messenger LLC, which works under a non-profit (like Mozilla) called the Signal Foundation, was formed after Acton left the company and donated $50 million to Signal. The app is widely considered the gold standard for encrypted texting today.
Unlike WhatsApp, the Signal Foundation is a nonprofit, is not tied to any major tech companies, and can never be acquired by one. The development of the app is supported entirely by grants and donations from Signal users.
2. You know exactly what’s inside the app
Because of Signal’s privacy-first approach to every aspect of the app, and the fact that the source code (sort of like the ‘recipe’ to create an application) is publicly available.
This means that experts around the world can take a look at Signal’s code and look for problems, ensuring they are fixed faster than other apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.
3. Everything is encrypted, including your GIFs
Secondly, Signal encrypts everything you could think of, including your profile photo, your voice and video calls, photos, attachments, stickers, and location pins.
Have you ever searched for a GIF on WhatsApp? Your search terms are sent directly to GIPHY, which Facebook also owns. Signal works around this issue by searching for the GIF on their servers and sending it to your phone.
4. Securely back up your chats and keep your contacts on your device
Signal also doesn’t send unsecured backups of your messages to the cloud where they can be read by anyone, including Google and WhatsApp. Instead, they are stored in an encrypted database on your phone and only you hold the key.
The app doesn’t even store your contacts on their server, using another privacy-friendly method to match you with your friends.
5. You’ll get the most privacy friendly features first
One of Signal’s oldest and most useful features is the one that lets you make messages disappear, something that only recently came to WhatsApp. Users can set a timer of anything between 10 seconds to a week and any messages older than that will simply vanish.
One-time viewable media and messaging requests, other handy Signal features, simply don’t exist on WhatsApp.
6. Stop other apps on your phone from seeing what you type
Signal also has other features that simply don’t exist on other mainstream messaging platforms. One such feature is an Incognito Keyboard option that tells your keyboard not to learn from what you type on the app. Another setting on Signal for Android called the ‘Screen security’ will stop any app from looking into your Signal window and see what you’re typing, which is really neat.
To wrap things up, Signal is probably the only app you should be looking to if you want to ensure your messages stay between you and your friends. You can head over to signal.org and download the app from the App Store or the Google Play Store, then send the same link to your friends.