WhatsApp versus Signal: Privacy policies, data collection and more

Updated on Jan 12, 2021 02:35 PM IST

The app has been endorsed by personalities like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, American whistleblower Edward Snowden, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Oscar-winning filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras.

Many users are in a mood to ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal.(Reuters)
Many users are in a mood to ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal.(Reuters)
Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Susmita Pakrasi, New Delhi

WhatsApp has been facing a backlash since it rolled out its latest privacy policy updates. The Facebook-owned company has been facing the heat by several users over privacy concerns, and people are looking for an alternative. Many users are in a mood to ditch WhatsApp and switch to Signal.

The app has been endorsed by personalities like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, American whistleblower Edward Snowden, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Oscar-winning filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras.

Here’s a comparison between the two most popular messaging apps:

1. WhatsApp is currently the largest messaging service in the world with more than 2 billion monthly active users, while Signal has around 20 million monthly active users.

2. WhatsApp recently introduced the new in-app payments feature. Group chats work with up to 256 members. One can broadcast messages to multiple contacts, support voice and video calls, both for individuals and groups. Whereas, Signal offers secure messaging, voice, and video calls with end-to-end encryption. One can create groups, but can’t broadcast messages to multiple contacts at once. Signal also has added support for group calling.

3. WhatsApp does not encrypt backups (cloud or local). WhatsApp also does not encrypt metadata unlike Signal, which is used to carry communication between two endpoints. In terms of user privacy, Signal offers the most secured form of communication you can get on the internet. It by default encrypts all the local files with a four-digit passphrase. It also supports encrypted group calls.

4. Unlike WhatsApp, Signal has the option to write a 'note to self' rather than forming a single person group to send notes to oneself.

5. Signal also collects much fewer user data compared to WhatsApp. While WhatsApp collects a huge pile of data including device ID, user ID, phone number, email address, contacts, advertising data and payment information, Signal only collects users' phone numbers.

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