Signal for me, please

Whatsapp or Signal? The difference will become a lot bigger as of 15 May. I go for the latter.

It is not entirely wrong to say that what WhatsApp wants to change in the privacy settings by May 15, 2020 does not make much difference. But they don’t just do it for no reason. There are good reasons to consider Signal.

1. Monopoly and competition

WhatsApp belongs to Facebook, a data-guzzling company that is constantly breaking promises. Facebook will fully integrate Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram in the near future. The main reason why they are doing so now is that legal measures are (finally) being considered in both the US and the EU to counter monopoly formation. By integrating the services in a technically inextricable way, it will become a lot more difficult for regulators to split up the mega-company. The plans to introduce Libra’s own currency also fit into this.

2. Online shopping and advertising

Moreover, they want to bring shops and advertising on WhatsApp, allow purchases through that channel and integrate shopping with Facebook. Encryption or not, every link clicked in a WhatsApp message is being (already) followed. So, you will reveal a lot about your buying interests. That’s what it’s all about. And in a way, Facebook is right. Indeed, not much will change, they will suck in every new piece of data.

Soon, I will leave WhatsApp. I notice that family and friends have a much lower threshold for switching.

WhatsApp encryption by the way has been under discussion for a while now. The UNO and other international organizations and large companies no longer use WhatsApp.

Hence Signal. The Signal app. Signal does not request user data, only a phone number. There are no servers that follow you or try to build a profile. Chats and conversations are not tracked; everything is in the app. Your contact list is not communicated. Signal is a non-profit organization with open-source software and collaboration. It does everything WhatsApp does: chatting, video calling, groups, desktop app on the PC, … The thing is, you don’t make a company rich that avoids taxes everywhere. A company that seizes personal data wherever it can seize them, and then commercially and politically does whatever it likes. A company that constantly lies and breaks promises. By the way, read a while ago: Facebook makes 16 $ per month per user in sales with personal data that users so enthusiastically pass on for free.

What data do the different chat apps absorb? This overview speaks for itself.

I myself have been using Signal for about four years. At first, in a limited circle of convinced friends. Two years ago, I started using WhatsApp (forced by painful circumstances in which I immediately needed a lot of communication). Soon I will be leaving WhatsApp. I notice that family and friends now have a much lower threshold for switching. I now get new Signal contacts daily, on the same phone number as what is currently still connected to WhatsApp.

When asked if Signal is safe, Edward Snowden recently replied on Twitter, “I use it every day and I’m still alive.”

Wikipedia on SignalBackground at Increment.com

Author: Toon Lowette

Toon Lowette started working in online publishing in 1982 as researcher, publisher and consultant, after six years as economics jourmalist. In July 2018, he retired and moved from Belgium to Spain, (among other things) important interest areas are privacy, protection of personal data, the right to oblivion, and democracy.

2 thoughts on “Signal for me, please”

  1. Impossible apparently to join Signal with my i-phone. Too old to be updated to the right level and since I am not willing to get another smart phone just for this reason, I’ll have to stay on the outside (and with WhatsApp)

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