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WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal: Which Is Safer To Use Amid Data Collection Concerns

Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s new privacy policy raised security concerns over their data among its users, making them consider and switch to alternative options. Here is a comparison between WhatsApp and its alternatives.  

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WhatsApp’s new privacy policy has raised concern over data collection. The leading messaging app will now collect more data to share with the parent company Facebook, which has in turn raised security concerns among its users.

Consequently, other apps like Telegram and Signal gained traction to switch from WhatsApp amid growing apprehensions of usage of the latter messaging service.

A recent “Use Signal” tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk has resulted in substantial signup for the app. As per the privacy details highlighted on the Apple app store, the Signal app seems to be the least data sharing messaging app which does not collect any user information except their phone numbers.

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The Signal App is a well-known privacy-focused messaging app that is widely used by security experts, privacy researchers, academics and journalists around the world. The Signal protocol is also strengthened with the end-to-end encryption feature of WhatsApp however, one key difference is that Signal is open source, while WhatsApp is not.

Telegram too offers some level of protection to its users. While the app supports end-to-end encryption it is not enabled by default. One has to enable secret chats service in Telegram for that. This is the same reason why telegram group chats have no E2E encryption feature and secret chaps are only supportive of single-user communication.

The E2E encryption is available on every single mode of communication that is enabled on WhatsApp. Therefore, all your messages, video calls, voice calls, photos that you share on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted. However, it does not encrypt the backup and the metadata. While metadata does not allow anyone to read your messages, it lets authorities know whom and when you messaged someone and for how long. This is a major criticism of WhatsApp.

Signal, on the other hand, encrypts your metadata too. It even has a new way of communication between the sender and the recipient that is called the Sealed Sender. Basically, with Sealed Sender, no one will be able to know not even Signal who is messaging whom, which ensures ultimate privacy. The app now also supports encrypted group calls.

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While WhatsApp collects device ID, user ID, advertising data, phone number, email address, performance data and other diagnostic data and user content, Telegram collects contact Information, contacts and user ID. The only personal data Signal stores is your phone number.  

Overall, the Signal app shows higher levels of data security and protection over WhatsApp and Telegram, making it the most secure messaging app between the three.

 

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