What Is Signal App Elon Musk Is Urging Users To Shift To? 10 Things About The WhatsApp Alternative

Tech gurus like Elon Musk, Edward Snowden, and Mike Butcher have openly endorsed Signal over WhatsApp.

Tanvi Akhauri
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Elon Musk, recently named the richest man in the world surpassing Amazon's Jeff Bezos, urged social media users to make the shift to the Signal app. His tweet comes in light of WhatsApp's latest privacy policy update, which has raised skepticism regarding data breach. The app is asking users to grant assent to their personal information being made accessible to its parent company Facebook by February 8, failing which they will lose access to WhatsApp. 'Use Signal' - two words by Musk on Twitter led to an enormous amount of signups on Signal, which already has over 10 million hits and is fast being hailed as an able and safer competitor to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp, owned by Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook that has also acquired Instagram, recently made changes in its privacy policy, raising many eyebrows. The Tesla CEO was among them and seemingly took a swipe at Zuckerberg, and not once. Earlier, in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill siege, Musk had tweeted a meme hinting at Facebook's platforming of Donald Trump's content which allegedly sparked the violent riots.

Also Read: Facebook Removes Racist Posts Targeting Kamala Harris

What is Signal, the app people are migrating to? Here are 10 things to know about it: 

1. Signal's popularity doesn't come with Musk's tweet alone. It is well-known as a cross-platform encrypted messaging app that uses the same end-to-end encryption policy as WhatsApp does. Signal can be used to send messages personally as well as in groups. Files, voice notes, images, and videos are all supported formats aside from text.

2. Signal and WhatsApp perhaps find their commonalities in the name that ties them together: Brian Acton. Acton, famously known as the co-founder of WhatsApp, was one of the initial funders of the Signal Foundation that launched Signal.

3. Signal's bio on Twitter simply reads: "Say “hello” to privacy." On Thursday, the app reported a delay with the barrage of signups in the aftermath of Musk's endorsement of it.

4. Signal is free to download and use, and can be accessed via the app stores on both iOS and Android softwares. It can even be accessed through the desktop. One point of difference between Signal and WhatsApp is that the former is open source while the latter has a closed source code.

5. Like WhatsApp, Signal has the feature of voice and video calls. It even recently added the group call feature, which is fully encrypted.

6. The interface for Signal, users have said, is rather straightforward. It does not require any lengthy signup processes and can be accessed immediately upon download. The typing status and read receipts can be turned off on the app.

7. The privacy protocol on Signal is reported to be peer-reviewed, which increases its reliability. According to Slant, Signal uses a superior encryption policy that grants privacy to every single message exchanged.

8. The updated policy terms of WhatsApp read: “We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products." On WhatsApp, data pertaining to Transactions, Payments Data, and Location Information will also reportedly be collected.

9. Aside from Musk, other tech gurus, including newspaper TechCrunch's editor Mike Butcher, have given a nod to Signal as a messaging app superior to WhatsApp. Butcher even suggested Telegram as opposed to WhatsApp. Elaborating the latter's new policy, he wrote, "WhatsApp will share its users' personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, & more with Facebook from Feb. 8, according to the new T&Cs."

10. Edward Snowden, former CIA employee infamous for leaking highly classified US security documents, has also given a thumbs up to Signal's security policy. After a user raised doubts over it, Snowden, hinting at his notorious past, crisply responded, "Here's a reason: I use it every day and I'm not dead yet."

Views expressed are the author's own. 

elon musk Mark Zuckerberg Whatsapp new feature Privacy Policy Signal App