19 January 2021
by Sophie Vella
You might have seen the news about the app Signal possibly replacing WhatsApp and getting a 4200% increase in user downloads within a week. Due to security concerns, techies and social media users are now considering switching to Signal to safeguard their data. So let’s get to explaining exactly what happened (grab your tea for this one).
So let’s start off by saying Facebook bought out WhatsApp in February 2014 after buying Instagram in 2012. Recently, WhatsApp decided to change its terms on its app to accommodate its Facebook business customers when buying and selling to WhatsApp users. This had no real affect to users except for that fact that the terms were so badly worded that it was misinterpreted by a large number of users. The misinterpretation led to users thinking that WhatsApp would share private user data with Facebook which would be a huge data breach so this misinterpretation spread like wildfire.
It was so believable due to the fact that Facebook has already been under scrutiny for previous data breach allegations which have not gone unnoticed in the tech industry. So what is Facebook actually gathering from our profiles? Instead of focusing on gathering the content of a message, the data gathered would focus on the sender, time and location of the messages resulting in specific metadata gathered. Even though WhatsApp continues to deny that they do not gather any private data with Facebook, users still voiced that they did not consent to the gathering of this metadata.
What is Signal?
Signal, like WhatsApp, is a free messaging app. Both allow you to chat for free over Wi-Fi or mobile data which makes them popular when messaging friends or family overseas. It is gaining popularity as WhatsApp’s main competitor due to Facebook’s bruised reputation when discussing security. Interestingly enough, Signal is owned by a new non-profit that puts security at the forefront of its company values unlike Facebook that tends to concern itself more with the easy use and likability of its apps and their features.
Is Signal’s security better than WhatsApp?
Yes it is. Both apps are technically end-to-end encrypted meaning that your content is safe however WhatsApp’s weakness is its cloud backup option. We’ve seen the notification re-backup of our content on WhatsApp before- but where is that backing up to? This would be Google’s or Apple’s cloud. Signal in comparison does not offer this functionality to its users resulting in a more secure app. However, WhatsApp is easier to use in terms of features so Signal is now working on a beta version with improved features.
Basically, in summary, it all boils down to reputation, marketing and social media influencers. We know that major social media influencers have influenced the shares of huge companies in the past as we can see with the Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat Tweet. In this case, Elon Musk’s influential position within the industry influenced the perception of WhatsApp as a whole. Nevertheless, you can continue using WhatsApp as its security is acceptable.
Can I still message GO on WhatsApp?
Of course! Like we said, WhatsApp is still safe to use. You can add us on +35679707970 and if you’d like to contact us through other channels, please visit our Contact us page.