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How is Signal different from WhatsApp?

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WhatsApp has been the most famous messenger application among people. But ever since Signal was recommended by Elon Musk in one of his recent tweets in January, it has been downloaded over 50,000 times a day! Currently, there has been an ongoing dispute on whether WhatsApp is better than Signal and if Signal is, in fact, more secure than WhatsApp.

People have been encouraged to switch their communications to Signal as they can trust it. In this article, we go through a detailed comparison between Signal and WhatsApp to help users make the best decision for their main messaging application.

More about Signal

Signal is a cross-platform encrypted messaging service that was developed by Signal Messenger LLC and the Signal Technology Foundation. People who use Signal can send each other one-to-one text or send a group text. This includes images, voice notes, files, and videos. Signal can also function as an SMS app on androids.

Signal uses cell phone numbers to identify and secure communication between users with end-to-end encryption. The app also includes a feature that allows users to identify the number themselves and contact the integrity of the data channel.

There is a lot of buzz around the term end-to-end encryption but it is very simple. Unlike regular SMS messaging apps, Signal garbles up your messages before sending them, and those messages are only ungarbled for the verified recipient. This is to prevent your mobile carriers, law enforcement, and other spying entities from reading or snooping on your private messages even if they intercepted them.

Signal and Privacy

When it comes to privacy, it’s quite difficult to not go with Signal instead of any other messaging app. Signal does not store your data, and besides its encryption features, Signal offers you extended onscreen privacy options. Such as blank notification pop-ups, app locks, disappearing messages, face-blurring, and anti-surveillance tools.

Why Everyone Should be Using Signal Instead of WhatsApp?

WhatsApp notified its users that the application’s 3,800-word privacy policy and its 5,000-word terms of service were being updated to include information about processing users’ data and the ability for businesses to use Facebook services for managing chats. On the other hand, Signal has been focused on privacy, which is something that many people feel it’s been compromised with the new WhatsApp updates on privacy policy which caused an outrage on the internet.

Many people have declared that they are switching to Signal as their main messaging app and leaving WhatsApp. And even Elon Musk encouraged people in his tweets to switch to Signal instead, many people are following him and switching to Signal as a WhatsApp alternative.

 In terms of privacy and security, Signal is hands-down better than WhatsApp. However, it’s more about your community and your communication circle, if everyone is using WhatsApp then you will find yourself using it as well. But after all, what is more important than your privacy?

Signal Has More Up-to-Date Security Features

Signal is a pioneer when it comes to new privacy features. For instance, Signal has the disappearing messaging feature that allows you to send a text and it would automatically disappear after a specific period of time. This feature has existed in Signal since 2016.

But it is still being tested with a small number of WhatsApp users. Another mainstream feature that Signal has and WhatsApp doesn’t include is an incognito keyboard switch for Androids which prevents the Gboard from sending your typing history to Google. Additionally, Signal has a view-once encrypted profile, and backups do not default to encrypted storage in Apple iCloud or Google Drive.

Signal is Open Source

All the Signal source code is published for anyone to check and use under an AGPLv3 license for the server and a GPLv3 license for clients. Meaning that anyone can see what’s happening inside it.

Signal has Less Potential for Hidden Vulnerabilities

WhatsApp is more inviting to malicious participants. However, because it is code-based, it takes a longer time for any dangerous vulnerability to be noticed. This is normal with any application, as they all sooner or later suffer from vulnerabilities. Signal has managed to resolve many of these vulnerabilities on its own.

You Can Run Your Own Signal Server

This is another advantage of open source: you get to play with it! Still, it is not recommended as you probably will not need or even want a Signal server of your own as they are made for mass communication platforms and it’s not intended to scale down currently.

How Much Can You Trust Facebook?

One of the most convincing reasons to not trust Facebook is the fact that they have no respect for users’ privacy. Facebook has a history of collecting data. It has been already proven that FB cannot be trusted especially with WhatsApp user data that should remain private under EU law. In 2017, regulators from Europe acted against Facebook for sharing WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with its Facebook social network to improve the advertisement. Which was a clear breach of data protection regulations.

Facebook was determined to introduce adverts to WhatsApp.  However, most recent reports show that the plan has been scrapped. Still, it is not clear what will happen when Facebook eventually merges Instagram messaging, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

Final Thoughts

Having a main application to communicate with your friends, family, and loved ones is very important in our time. However, our privacy should never be compromised while we all have private conversations and data. So, it is very important to favor privacy over other features that might be included in other apps.

About the Author

Jason has over 25 years in the information and internet security industry. He is passionate about smartphones, gadgets, and technology. He also got a solid background in programming and software.  This includes Python, C++, app development and more.

jason thompson