Is switching from WhatsApp to Signal worth the effort?


Two words from Elon Musk resulted in a small American medical-device firm called "Signal Advance" becoming world-famous, driving the company's share price up by 11,708 per cent in just three days.

Those two words were "Use Signal".

Musk wasn't referring to that firm though.

His tweet was aimed at the encrypted messaging app, Signal, and he was suggesting people use it, instead of the Facebook-owned, WhatsApp.

Many have abandoned WhatsApp since it announced in January users had to accept its new privacy policy or their accounts would be deleted.

But is Signal that much better? In short, yes, it is.

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Part of the work we do at IDCARE is review popular apps.

This is no normal app review though.

We focus on the nitty-gritty details you probably didn't even glance at before downloading the app.

We look at an app's privacy policy and we examine how much the app harvests your data for third-parties, like advertisers.

We also look at how easy the app is to hack, plus a few other fun bits thrown in-between. Then we come up with our own hAPPy Score out of five.

This month, we put Signal through it and it achieved the highest rating in hAPPy Score history.

I also learned a few new things along the way.

For example, I didn't know the co-founder of Signal, Brian Acton, was also the co-founder of WhatsApp.

I didn't know he walked away from an estimated $850 million four years after he sold WhatsApp to Facebook.

He left, apparently, because he didn't like Facebook's plans to monetise WhatsApp.

He walked away on principal, and then he started Signal, which is a not-for-profit.

Part of reviewing an app for the hAPPy Score also involves reviewing the legalese and how long and complicated the Terms and Conditions you normally don't glance at are to digest.

Signal's legal spiel was a mere 2072 words.

Compare that to something like Amazon Kindle which a Choice review a few years back had about 73,000 words.

The key to Signal's brevity - and the reason why I'm switching - could lie in this one sentence:

"Signal does not sell, rent or monetise your personal data or content in any way - ever".

And, that sentence alone is worth the effort of making the switch.


Kathy Sundstrom is a former Sunshine Coast Daily journalist who now works at identity and cyber support service IDCARE

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