If your choice of encrypted messaging app is a toss-up between Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, do not waste your time with anything but Signal. Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp all use end-to-end encryption in some portion of their app, meaning that if an outside party intercepts your texts, they should be scrambled and unreadable. Getty/SOPA Images Does not collect data, only your phone number. Encryption: Signal Protocol Signal is a typical one-tap install app that can be found in your normal marketplaces like Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store and works just like the usual text-messaging app.
Signal's main function is that it can send -- to either an individual or a group -- fully encrypted text, video, audio and picture messages, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users' identity. Getty/NurPhoto Data linked to you: Name, phone number, contacts, user ID. While it doesn't collect as much data as WhatsApp, it also doesn't offer encrypted group calls like WhatsApp, nor as much user data privacy and company transparency as Signal. Data collected by Telegram that could be linked to you includes your name, phone number, contact list and user ID. Telegram group messages also aren't encrypted. Most recently, its GPS-enabled feature allowing you to find others near you has created obvious problems for privacy.
I reached out to Telegram to find out whether there were any major security plans in the works for the app, and what its security priorities were after this latest user surge.
Signal and Telegram both advertise themselves as private and secure. Both Signal and Telegram are chat apps with all the standard features, from stickers to photo and file transfers to voice and video calls.
Signal Has Better Privacy Features Than Telegram. All conversations and other communications on Signal are end-to-end encrypted between devices running Signal. Telegram offers optional end-to-end encryption. All Telegram messages are encrypted between you and the Telegram server, but the company in charge of Telegram could technically view your messages on its server if it liked—unless you start a “Secret Chat.”. Also, in Telegram, you can’t have a group “Secret Chat.” You can only get end-to-end encryption in conversations between two people. All your Signal conversations are stored only on your device by default.
While Signal has the clear advantage when it comes to privacy, Telegram offers a variety of convenience features that Signal doesn’t have. In Telegram, you can have up to 200,000 people in a group chat.
Signal vs. Telegram: Which Should You Use?
Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW.
Because of this change, there has been a lot of outrage and folks are looking to leave the Facebook-owned chat app and head to other alternatives. For this post, I want to compare Telegram and Signal’s privacy features and policy with WhatsApp to see how much of your data these apps are using and how secure they are. The platform — approaching 500 million users — has a lot of unique features that make it a popular choice for a WhatsApp alternative.
One of the most celebrated features of Telegram is that you can avoid giving your phone number and use your username to add people. The company allows bots to interact with you on the platform, and by default, privacy mode is enabled so that they can’t read your chat. While the app allows bots to facilitate payments, all the transactions are handled by third-party providers and the company doesn’t store your financial data.
The app supports end-to-end encryption for all features, meaning no one can read your chats or snoop on your calls.
E2E encrypted email providers also see sign-ups surge as chat app users flock to Signal and Telegram in search of privacy. ProtonMail founder Andy Yen told TechCrunch it’s seen a 3x rise in sign-ups for its end-to-end encrypted webmail service “in recent weeks.” While Germany’s Tutanota said usage has doubled since privacy concerns about WhatsApp’s new T&Cs sharing data with Facebook started circulating online. People around the world are increasingly understanding that privacy matters and are no longer okay with fueling the surveillance capitalism and the exploitation of their data by big tech such as Facebook. In my case, among the U.K. contacts joining what had previously been a tight clique of privacy nerds, I can report a couple of ex-London neighbours, an old university acquaintance, an antique Tinder date, my former landlord and two three ex-colleagues — while my India-based TC colleague, Manish Singh, showed me three full screenshots of sign-ups his Signal app had alerted him to in just “the last few days.”. The privacy-flavored mass migration of users to WhatsApp alternatives has pushed the Facebook-owned company to attempt a public firefight this week — over what it couches as “rumours” about the looming T&Cs changes. And all those broken promises are coming home to roost as users fly elsewhere — searching for a platform whose business model isn’t predicated on exploiting their attention.
And it did already screw over WhatsApp users’ privacy — when it U-turned on data-sharing with Facebook just a few short years after it shelled out $19 billion to line up all those extra eyeballs for its surveillance business.
WhatsApp soon issued a clarification, explaining that the new policy only affects the way users’ accounts interact with businesses (ie not with their friends) and does not mandate any new data collection. Crucially, WhatsApp said, the new policy doesn’t affect the content of your chats, which remain protected by end-to-end encryption – the “gold standard” of security that means no one can view the content of messages, even WhatsApp, Facebook, or the authorities.
WhatsApp does share some data with Facebook, including phone numbers and profile name, but this has been happening for years. This can be shared with “Facebook companies”.
Why are people choosing Signal over Telegram? Signal benefits from being the most similar to WhatsApp in terms of features, while Telegram has had problems as a secure and private messaging app, with its live location feature recently coming under fire for privacy infringements. Signal is end-to-end encrypted, collects less data than Telegram and stores messages on your device rather than in the cloud.
Like WhatsApp, Signal uses your phone number as your identity, something that has concerned some privacy and security advocates. Signal is supported by the non-profit Signal Foundation, set up in 2018 by WhatsApp founder Brian Acton and security researcher (and Signal Messenger CEO) Moxie Marlinspike, who created an encryption protocol that is used by several messaging services, including WhatsApp and Skype as well as Signal itself.
I want to move to Signal. How do you persuade WhatsApp groups to switch? He advises anyone who’s moving groups across apps to focus on the “why” first.
Moore is in the process of moving a family chat to Signal, for the second time.