Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram

Use Signal. But Why? Let’s Decode

“Use Signal.” These two words by the world’s richest person have taken the social media world by storm. It was on last Wednesday that Elon Musk endorsed the messaging platform Signal. This came after WhatsApp’s privacy policy update enabling it to share users’ private information. 

The tweet resulted in an 1100% upsurge in Signal’s downloads on both Google Play Store and App Store. But there was another app which gained too. While Signal saw 2.3 million downloads on the application stores, Telegram witnessed a mammoth 1.5 million downloads between January 6 and 10, as per the Sensor Tower data

The Build-Up

Millions of Indian Whatsapp users received an in-app notification which left them with two choices: either follow the updated terms of service and privacy policy or get out. While the notification didn’t specifically reveal many details right away, the links to the privacy policy and terms and conditions surely did. 

A part of the global rollout, this privacy policy update rang alarms worldwide and people quickly ventured out for safer alternatives. The updated WhatsApp privacy policy rolled out on January 4, 2021, stating, “WhatsApp must receive or collect some information to operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services, including when you install, access, or use our Services.”

It continued, “You can delete your WhatsApp account at any time (including if you want to revoke your consent to our use of your information pursuant to applicable law) using our in-app delete my account feature.” The updated privacy policy is set to come into effect on February 8th. 

What followed next was an outrage on social media, especially on Twitter. When asked by his followers for safer messaging platforms, the SpaceX founder tweeted, “Use Signal.” It was indeed a signal to people to adopt a better messaging service, Signal

Testimonials on Signal

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, shared a review on the Signal website, “I trust Signal because it’s well built, but more importantly, because of how it’s built: open source, peer-reviewed, and funded entirely by grants and donations. A refreshing model for how critical services should be built.” 

testimonials
Source: Popular personalities including Jack Dorsey and Edward Snowden have some positive views on Signal app

Privacy advocate, Edward Snowden, also admitted using Signal everyday. 

Oscar-winning filmmaker, Laura Poitras, was quoted saying, “Signal is the most scalable encryption tool we have. It is free and peer reviewed. I encourage people to use it everyday.”

Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram

First, let’s take a look at what Signal is. Signal Messenger, founded by Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton under Signal Foundation in 2018, is an open-source encrypted messaging application. The foundation’s objective is to provide its users an end-to-end encrypted app prioritizing users’ privacy, just as the tagline goes, “Say hello to privacy.” The app is available for download on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Brian Acton was, in fact, the co-founder of WhatsApp and left the company in 2017, three years after Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. He then donated $50 million to fund Signal. The catch here is, even WhatsApp uses Signal’s end-to-end encryption protocol. 

Now that you know a little more about Signal, is it worth a try? With popular personalities recommending it, will Signal really meet the users’ privacy expectations? Let’s compare it with the social network giant WhatsApp and Telegram, and see who wins. 

Must read: 7 best Android apps for chatting with strangers

1. Encryption (Signal Emerges Victorious)

Applying encryption to messages so that only the receiving device can decrypt is called end-to-end encryption. Normal SMS texts are not encrypted making them vulnerable to interception.

Signal

Signal app is end-to-end encrypted which means the application cannot access the private chats, media, and files. So what happens in Signal, stays in Signal

WhatsApp

WhatsApp also provides end-to-end encryption but unfortunately, it has access to personal information. It has all the chats stored in the application’s cloud which are not even encrypted. 

Telegram

Telegram provides end-to-end encryption only for secret chats plus all calls. You can mark your chats as secret chats for better security. 

2. Chat Backups (Signal Again)

Signal

Signal doesn’t store the chats of any kind, private or group. All the chats are only locally available on the application. Only non-delivered messages are stored in its server until the devices are online again. 

WhatsApp

WhatsApp claims it doesn’t typically store the messages in its server but only when the messages are undelivered or during media forwarding. It also has access to all the private information like IP address, locations, group details, status, etc. Also, it allows you to backup your chats in Google Drive or iCloud.

Telegram

Messages, photos, videos, and documents are stored in Telegram server for better accessibility across devices without using third-party backups. 

3. File Sharing (Telegram Wins This)

Signal

On Signal, you can share all file types up to 100MB 

WhatsApp

Photos, videos, and audio files of up to 16 MB and documents of up to 100MB size can be shared 

Telegram

File sharing up to 2 GB is possible

4. Group Chat And Group Video Calls (WhatsApp and Telegram Share The Honors)

Signal

A maximum of 150 members can join a group, allows group video calls with 8 people

WhatsApp

Up to 256 members can form a group, allows group video calls with 8 people

Telegram

Offers group chats with up to 200,000 members, enables one-to-one video calls, not group video calling

Must read: How to make free video calls on Android

Other Features

Signal

Unlike WhatsApp, you don’t have to create a single-member group for notes. Signal has a ‘Note to Self’ feature for that. 

WhatsApp

Other features include status updates, live location sharing

Telegram

Helps you create channels where you can send messages to a large audience, amazing extra features like quizzes, polls, bots, and hashtags

The Verdict

When it comes to privacy, Signal is the clear winner among all the messaging platforms. However, if you care about additional features like file sharing, group chat with big audiences, more data sharing capabilities, and security, Telegram is a better app for you. If you feel okay with your data being shared with third-party apps and quite comfortable with the features WhatsApp provides, you can certainly stick to it. 

I hope this messaging guide helps you in deciding which application to use for your chatting needs. If you have any questions or if I have missed something, please leave your comments below. Cheers!

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