The Major Differences Between Signal & WhatsApp

What to keep in mind if you're thinking of making the switch.

by Mia Mercado
A black-haired lady smiling on a couch under a blanket and typing text messages on her mobile phone
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WhatsApp recently released an updated terms of service agreement regarding how data is shared with Facebook, its parent company. And now folks are switching from WhatsApp to the messaging app Signal. If you're wondering how the apps are different, here are five things to know.

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In addition to a Twitter shoutout from Elon Musk, Signal has been endorsed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. After WhatsApp released its new privacy policy, Signal downloads surged and was briefly number 1 on the app store.
Signal Links Less Info To You

While WhatsApp collects info like ad data, purchase history, and coarse location, Signal only links your phone number to you. In fact, a recent Apple update showed iMessage actually links less data to you than WhatsApp.

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Neither App Can Read Your Messages

Both WhatsApp and Signal use end-to-end encryption, making your messages decryptable only by the recipient. If you stick with WhatsApp, rest assured that Facebook is not reading your private chats.

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Signal Has Better Security

You can opt-in to cloud storage on WhatsApp while Signal doesn't have the option to save chat history to the cloud. WhatsApp's unencrypted cloud storage has been considered a security risk among experts. Unlike WhatsApp, Signal is fully open-source.

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Both Are Backed By Billionaires

While not owned by a tech giant like Facebook, Signal got an initial $50 million in backing from WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton. Now, it's funded by the nonprofit Signal Foundation.

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Which Is Better For Private Messaging?

That depends on what you're looking for. Signal's overall security seems to trump WhatsApp's. Both keep your messages private. Either way, the key to protecting your data is understanding what encrypted messaging can and cannot do.

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