Alex Johnstone

Use Signal

This picture is circulating the internet following WhatsApp’s change in terms. Why does Facebook need all this access for a messenging application? Well to make more money of course. However, do you really want to share all this just to chat with your friends?

Apple marks an app as asking for “Sensitive Info” when it asks for data ranging from data on a person’s race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, as well as data on a person’s religion, pregnancy status, or political opinions. Biometric data in all of its forms also falls under this umbrella.

No-one or company needs to know this unles there’s a genuine reason. If you live somewhere with privacy laws, like Europe, then whilst you probably should be covered I wouldn’t trust them to not “accidentally” collect all your information and ship it overseas. There’s also the principle of it, you might be lucky to be protected by the law but many others aren’t. So why should you support, encourage and accept these behaviours by continuing to use their apps.

Do yourself a favour and install Signal, and then delete the others.

Using Signal

It’s just like WhatsApp, you have single and group chats, you can do audio and video calls with one person or group chats, and it adds anyone in your contacts who has installed Signal. You can send photos, videos, voice recording, search for gifs via giphy, and it has a weird selection of stickers. If there is something WhatsApp does that Signal doesn’t I’ve not noticed in using it.

It has some extra security/privacy features that are unique. Such as validating someone’s safety number to ensure it’s them. This is like PGP encryption keys whereby you can set the level of trust the key. The idea is that you meet in person, or some other way, and share each other’s QR code to scan and that way you can verify each other. So if someone else stole their phone number and setup signal the unique key that you previously trusted would not be present and you’d know it wasn’t truly them. Not really something most people are going to use though.

There are a whole host of other privacy options and I encourage you to read about it on their website. Plus all their apps are open source and the company is a non-profit entity. Also there are desktop and tablet apps, which are nice whilst not on your phone.

The bottom line for most people, who don’t necessarily care about all these security features or being open source, is that Signal does not exploit you for the financial gain of the company.

Remember, once upon a time you had to install WhatsApp and get your friends to do likewise, it’s not that hard.