WhatsApp’s rival messaging app, Signal, gained recognition when WhatsApp users searched for alternative apps. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet encouraging users to switch to Signal also gave it an extra boost.

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Recently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its privacy policy, prompting more users to look for alternative platforms. This research led them to a few rival messaging apps available. Among them is Signal, a California-based app run by a non-profit organization.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet encouraging users to switch to Signal gave the privacy-focused app an extra boost.

What is Signal Messenger?

Signal Messenger was founded by Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton in 2018. Apparently, Acton is also the co-founder of WhatsApp. He left the Facebook-owned business three years after the social network bought it for $ 19 billion.

The goal of Signal Foundation is to provide its users with an encrypted messaging application. The app is open source and, in fact, WhatsApp currently uses Signal’s end-to-end encryption protocol.

How is it different from WhatsApp?

Messages sent via Signal are said to be encrypted, which means that the platform cannot access private messages or media, nor store them on their server.

Read also | WhatsApp Says Latest Update Does Not Change Facebook Data Sharing Practices

While WhatsApp also provides end-to-end encryption for messages, it can access other private information such as IP address, group details, and status. The company also does not encrypt messages stored in the cloud. Even Telegram, another rival messaging app, is said to store the user’s contact number and ID.

However, if the devices are offline, Signal will store some messages on its server until the messages are delivered.

Signal also allows you to set a recording lock PIN, which helps users protect private profile information. This number can also be used to recover profile, settings, contacts if a user loses the device or switches to a new one.

Another plus point is that Signal is not owned by a big tech company, unlike WhatsApp.

What about user privacy?

The user’s phone number is the only data Signal is supposed to store, unlike WhatsApp.

Read also | If it’s not WhatsApp, then what? Consider these alternatives

In addition to encrypting messages, the Signal service hides another important piece of metadata – who sends a message to whom. Thanks to the “sealed sender” function, the application hides the details of the sender and recipient.

Signal also allows the user to relay voice calls to its servers, thus hiding the user’s identity from contacts. Users can also enable incognito keyboard mode and block screenshots in the app. Recently, the app also added a feature to automatically blur faces before sending photos.

Signal indicates that it can also determine whether contacts in a user’s address book are Signal users without revealing their address book contacts to the service.

How to start?

Signal is available on Android and iOS devices. Users can also access the application on the desktop. You can start by registering your phone number and configuring the registration PIN code for added security.

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