Signal or WhatsApp? Here’s how the messaging apps differ and how to decide which one to use. (FB)

Brian Acton WhatsApp

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Signal, the privacy-first messaging app, is gaining a reputation as WhatsApp’s main competitor. 

The app saw a 4200% increase in user downloads this week after WhatsApp announced users would have to begin giving some data to its parent company, Facebook.

The two messaging apps have some things in common. Unlike normal SMS messages and others sent over a cellular network, Signal and WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption, which hides messages in case someone intercepted the chat or found them on a server. The two rival apps allow users to chat for free via Wi-Fi networks or cellular data, which make them popular for international communication.

But the two apps differ significantly in ownership, views on security, and ease of use. Signal is owned by a relatively new non-profit and puts a large emphasis on security, while Facebook-operated WhatsApp tends to be easier to use.

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Here’s a breakdown of the major differences between the two encrypted messaging platforms to help you decide which to use. Facebook and Signal were not immediately available for comment.

Who owns WhatsApp? 

The root of some users’ frustration with WhatsApp comes from the company’s owner. 

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp, co-founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, for $22 billion. 

Data breaches have plagued Facebook users for years. Facebook announced a major hack in 2018 that impacted 50 million accounts. Facebook employees knew about flaws in the platform’s security of user accounts as early as December 2017, according to a Telegraph report.

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During the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, Facebook said as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed. 

Koum left Facebook in 2018, and Acton went on to inject $50 million of his own money into rival encrypted chat app Signal.

Who owns Signal?

Signal, on the other hand, is operated by the non-profit Signal Foundation. Acton and Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike co-founded Signal Foundation in February 2018.

According to Signal Foundation’s website, Acton left after Facebook’s acquisition “due to differences surrounding the use of customer data and targeted advertising.” The executive donated $50 million to start Signal Foundation, and now sits on the organization’s board.   

Signal has never taken VC funding or sought investment, per Marlinspike.

“The project of Signal is basically to make technology normal, make it what it appears on the surface, where data isn’t being shared with other entities,” Marlinspike told Business Insider in 2020.

Meredith Whittaker is the third board member of the Signal Foundation. She is a former Google engineer who lead the firm’s labor organizing effort and now advocates on behalf of tech workers.

How secure is WhatsApp?

Facebook cannot access chats due to the end-to-end encryption, but the firm can take user data. 

Facebook has access to WhatsApp user phone numbers, IP addresses, mobile network, length of time using the messenger, payment data, cookies, and location …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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