Signal rivals WhatsApp

People often suggest using Signal over WhatsApp for privacy, but what makes Signal more private, and how does it compare to WhatsApp's features?

Signal rivals WhatsApp
Signal messenger is marketed as a medium where you can speak freely

While WhatsApp does use end-to-end encryption for all its chats, there are a few reasons why Signal may be considered more private than WhatsApp.

  1. Signal uses a more advanced encryption protocol called the Signal Protocol, which has been independently audited and is considered to be more secure than the encryption protocol used by WhatsApp.
  2. Signal is an open-source project, which means that its code is publicly available for anyone to review and audit. This allows for a higher level of transparency and security, as opposed to WhatsApp's proprietary encryption protocol.
  3. Signal does not collect or store any metadata about your messages, whereas WhatsApp collects some metadata, such as the phone numbers of the sender and recipient(s) and the time and date of the messages.

Signal’s ownership

Let’s follow the money and see who owns Signal. Signal is a non-profit organization, it is owned by the Signal Foundation which was founded by Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton in 2018.

Brian Acton is a co-founder of WhatsApp, he left the company and later donated $50 million to Signal Foundation to help fund the development of the Signal app. The organization is focused on developing open-source, end-to-end encrypted messaging and voice call technology.

Because Signal is a non-profit organization and is not owned by a larger corporation like WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook, this means that Signal is less likely to be influenced by outside parties.

Signal’s growing user base

It's difficult to compare the usage of Signal and WhatsApp as they are both widely used messaging apps, but Signal has a smaller user base compared to WhatsApp.

According to data from SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with over 2 billion monthly active users as of 2021. In comparison, Signal has seen a significant increase in downloads and usage following some privacy controversies surrounding WhatsApp and other messaging apps, but still has a smaller user base.

Big plus, there is also a desktop app for Mac, Windows and Linux. Works really well. One drawback is that existing chats are, for privacy reasons, not copied over.

It's important to note that Signal's user base is still growing, and its usage is increasing rapidly. And I do need to say that Signal has improved a lot in recent years. In the onboarding and also in the user experience. Both Signal and WhatsApp offer high-quality voice and video calling features and so feature wise they go neck to neck.

Signal definitely is a big rival of WhatsApp if it finds ways or momentum to further increase the user base.

How Signal Walks the Line Between Anarchism and Pragmatism
The privacy-focused messaging app arose from a fringe culture that emphasized individual autonomy and skepticism of authority. As it tries to go mainstream, can it escape its roots?