Science & Technology

What’s Up with WhatsApp?

What do business and technology magnate Elon Musk, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden all have in common? They all swear by Signal, the encrypted, private messenger service. There are plenty of messaging applications available on the market and, like Signal, some are cross-platform and encrypted, such as Telegram and WhatsApp. However, if you strip away the secondary features and come down to the heart of the matter – privacy – Signal always beats the competition.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp released its soon to be updated privacy policy and, after receiving an incredulous amount of backlash, delayed the update from February 8 to mid-May. Why is there backlash? Why is the update being delayed? The primary reason is the dramatic increase in privacy concerns. While most users mistakenly believe that the new privacy policy would allow companies to read their conversations as the update would “give [users] new options to message businesses using the service,” their concerns are not entirely unfounded. Even though the reassurances of WhatsApp executives ring true – both Facebook and WhatsApp cannot read sent messages between users – they neglect to mention all the data the application collects. This includes your device ID, physical location, phone number and contact list, and advertising data. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In terms of security, WhatsApp and Signal have the same, undoubtedly secure, encryption. However, WhatsApp has suffered from a multitude of hacks that Signal has not; for instance, Jeff Bezos’ famous phone hack back in January of 2020, the NSO Group hack, and a handful of others.

However, the difference between the two applications is that while WhatsApp’s protocol is the only open-source part of the application, the entirety of Signal is open-source. This means that anyone can see the app’s source code. Consequently, both the everyday user and high-level security experts can go through the documentation and ensure their data is as protected as the application claims. Even better: since the open-source protocol is responsible for powering the end-to-end encryption, Signal – the company, itself – is unable to view your messages, calls, etc.

Signal’s best selling point is that neither the application nor the company stores any user data. Since an individual’s data is not being stored, it is impossible for government agencies and other tech companies to request access and thus, the possibility of the data being disclosed is next to none. It is truly the epitome of both a private and secure messaging app.

In conclusion, in the words of Elon Musk: “Use Signal.”


CNET- WhatsApp vs Telegram

New York Times – WhatsApp privacy changes

Popular mechanics – app guide to signal

Leave a Reply