As Compared to WhatsApp, Signal Is Being Called a Better Messaging App. Should You Consider Switching?
“Let’s check out the new Signal app”
“Millions leave WhatsApp.”
“Beware — A New Wormable Android Malware Spreading Through WhatsApp.”
WhatsApp isn’t first choice anymore… what happened and what’s the alternative?
Let’s find out!
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Why the Decline of WhatsApp Support?
At the beginning of 2021, WhatsApp asked its 2 billion plus users to agree to updated terms and conditions regarding sharing their personal information with Facebook. If users did not accept these t’s and c’s, they would be banned from using WhatsApp.
Founder and CEO of Britain-based technology firm Digital Barriers, Zak Doffman, confirmed that WhatsApp collected the most data when compared to competitors like telegram, iMessage and Signal.
The mass message from WhatsApp informed users that some data would be shared to Facebook, including IP address, mobile network, contact numbers, service providers, browser information and battery level.
It did assure users that chats would remain encrypted, but users felt that the assurance just wasn’t enough, so began looking for more secure alternatives like Signal app.
What Is Signal?
Due to all the drama and uncertainty surrounding WhatsApp, Signal has exploded in popularity. It became the most downloaded free App on Apple and Google and with its tagline of “Say Hello to Privacy,” you can understand why it got a sudden boost in popularity ratings.
The secure messaging app was founded in 2014 by Moxie Marlinspike, who lists his credentials as, “software engineer, hacker, sailor, captain, and shipwright.”
The developer of this App is a non-profit, which we’ll go into more detail about later, and doesn’t sell adverts or user data. First though, let’s have a look at the figures that reveal just how many people downloaded Signal.
How Many Downloads Has Signal Had?
Aluxers, you know the reason why people are suddenly turning to Signal, so how many people made the switch?
According to CNBC.com, Signal had 7.5 million downloads between the 6th and 10th of January 2021. That was 43 times higher than the week before!
Telegram also had an exponential increase in downloads, with 5.3 million in that same week.
The fact that recently Signal was installing new servers shows that it isn’t quite ready for the massive influx of new users. As they tweeted, “We continue to shatter traffic records and add capacity as more and more people come to terms with how much they dislike Facebook’s new terms. If you weren’t able to create a new group recently, please try again. New servers are ready to serve you.”
Who Owns Signal?
We mentioned Moxie Marlinspike a little earlier, but he’s not the only one who can take credit for the platform. Brian Acton was just as involved and is the founder of the company Signal Messenger LLC. Acton is a computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur who also founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum.
A non-profit corporation owns Signal Messenger LLC under the umbrella, Signal Technology Foundation. Signal app is apparently not in the market for the monetary gains.
Is Signal Really Safer Than WhatsApp?
The answer to this question is what is driving more and more people to download Signal. In their own words on Twitter, “Signal is a cross-platform messaging app. Privacy isn’t an optional mode – it’s just the way that Signal works. Every message, every call, every time.”
Look, that could just be lip service so let’s see what makes Signal safer than WhatsApp.
According to Forbes.com, Signal is the safer option and here’s why.
Despite both WhatsApp and Telegram using encryption protocol, Signal’s differs in that its opensource. That means that any security researchers can detect where there are vulnerabilities. WhatsApp uses their own proprietary deployment.
Your content is safe with both, as they use end-to-end encryption. The security weakness in WhatsApp is its backup to cloud, where the app stores the chat history. Signal does not have this option.
What Does Signal, and Elon Musk Have in Common?
Musk, the man who momentarily was the richest man in the world, is also a huge fan of Signal. On the 7th of January 2021, he tweeted a very detailed, in-depth message about his thoughts regarding Signal. He said, “Use Signal.”
Funny story though. Many people took his words to the next level and decided to buy Signal stocks. Except, as we mentioned already, they’re a non-profit so you can’t buy shares.
What people bought instead was shares of Signal Advance, a company who manufactures various detection devices in the medical field.
They certainly didn’t complain, because prior to the misleading tweet, shares of Signal Advance had never gone above 60 cents. But on January 7th, stock closed at $3, 76, on the 8th of January it was $7.19 and then another day later pushed the closing price to $38.70.
That’s a 6350% increase over 3 days!! Once the hype died down and the truth was revealed, it did go down to $12 a share and at the time of writing this script it was $5.55 a share.
Which Chat Service Provider Is Best to Use? WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram?
Aluxers, we’ve already concluded that Signal app is by far the safest option, but if you’re not too bothered by your data or information being shared, then which is the best messaging platform to use?
Telegram sits somewhere between WhatsApp and Signal when it comes to privacy but has a great social network style environment. Another bonus for Telegram is that it has a 2GB limit when sending attachments.
One downside to Telegram is that you receive alerts when every Tom, Dick or Harry joins the platform. It’s like they’re so excited they need to advertise the fact someone has joined!
WhatsApp, despite the current challenges they’re facing, is still the go-to choice for most people.
Who Are Signal’s Biggest Supporters?
Elon Musk, of course, but who else? Former WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, and sure, it’s because he is one of the founders. But then there’s Edward Snowden. Remember him? He’s the American whistle-blower who leaked highly confidential information from the National Security Agency in 2013 while working as a CIA employee.
Another fan is Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey.
What Protects Your Conversations on Signal?
For a start, Signal offers end-to-end encryption. What does this mean? It means that only those participating in the conversation can read the messages.
On the surface, it looks like an ordinary messaging app and that’s what’s good about the App. You don’t need to think about security and can be at ease knowing that what’s happening behind the scenes is all being done to protect you, the user.
And as we mentioned already, nothing is stored. There are pros and cons to that. Sure, it’s great that there is nothing that people can gain access to, but if you lose your phone – you lose every, single conversation along with it, it’s not backed up like you have with WhatsApp.
What Features Does Signal Have?
Besides being super secure, Signal has other features which will also make you consider downloading the App.
Like any messaging App, you can delete individual messages – however – the recipient will still have full access to the entire string of messages. On Signal, you can select the “disappearing messages” feature, which removes the messages automatically. You can also select the time period before the app deletes the messages.
Currently, Signal has promised no adverts, but whether they can keep that up due to being an open-source project, is debatable as it can be quite tough to monetize.
Does This High-End Security Open a Gateway for Criminal Activity?
Aluxers, with all these security features, surely it will make it easier for criminals to get away with illegal activity?
The short answer is yes. There’s been a rapid rise in criminals using the App to communicate and execute illegal activities. With an App that encourages privacy, it’s a perfect portal for keeping things discrete.
Several current and former employees have all voiced concern over the misuse of the platform.
During the Black Lives Matter protests, Signal introduced a smudging tool to make the subjects of photographs anonymous.
Can Signal Handle the Sudden Influx of New Users?
A foxnews article says no, with headlines appearing on their site stating, “Signal messaging service back up after outage caused by surge in demand.”
Once their service was restored, they quickly came online to announce, “Signal is back!” “Like an underdog going through a training montage, we’ve learned a lot since yesterday — and we did it together. Thanks to the millions of new Signal users around the world for your patience. Your capacity for understanding inspired us while we expanded capacity.”
Despite being back online, users were aware of error messages that cropped up while using the platform. Signal were quick to reassure users that it didn’t compromise their security, and assured users they could continue sharing without “without insecurity.”
What Bugs Has Signal Already Encountered?
Several messaging / video apps encountered a bug that allegedly allowed attackers to spy on a user’s surroundings. Vulnerable apps included Signal, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, JioChat, and Mocha.
Triggering the bug was straight forward, problem solving for such a bug simply takes placing a call to the target’s device.
In 2019, Apple encountered a bug in its Group FaceTime feature. The bug was discovered by a high schooler, who realized that the person initiating the group call could listen to the recipient’s surroundings, even if the call wasn’t picked up!
The bug was fixed, but Google Project Zero researcher Natalie Silvanovich investigated further and confirmed that Signal Messenger, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, JioChat, and Mocha all had the potential to encounter similar problems.
There are no concerns as of now, as the app applied the troubleshooting in time.
How Does Signal Make Money if It’s Owned by a Non-Profit?
When looking at the figures, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much WhatsApp is worth, but it’s estimated that each user is worth $4 for the company. So, their value in the region might peak as high as $5 billion. Their revenue comes mainly from businesses using the service to connect with customers.
The WhatsApp deal is worth $19 billion. When Facebook makes such a purchase, it’s staying there to make a profit.
Signal is not for profit, with the intention of being there for the benefit of the user. However, they still need to pay staff, right?
They rely solely on donations to keep up and running. And because the app is open-sourced, anybody can go in and point out gaps or holes and offer solutions at a hugely reduced rate. The Signal team is quite small, with the highest number of employees at any given time, being 7. Brian Acton invested $50 million into the business, and with the sudden growth, we can expect more big donations to filter through.
If all this money talk interests you, and you want to know more about what different apps are worth, here are 15 Apps That Are Worth More Than $1 Billion.
What Data Does Signal Keep?
As plain and simple as that Aluxers. Signal keeps nothing. Not even the developers can access your account or the messages, media or documents you have sent.
It seems so far, they live up to their motto of, “Say Hello to Privacy,”
Have you downloaded Signal yet? If so, what is your experience of the App? We’d love to hear from you!