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Home / Technology / Elon Musk says to use Signal instead of Facebook. What you need to know about the messaging app

Elon Musk says to use Signal instead of Facebook. What you need to know about the messaging app



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The Signal app encrypts all your messages to others on the platform.

Roy Liu / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Tech mogul Elon Musk – known widely for sling cars in the orbit of the sun as he is for spokesman against COVID-19 security measures – took to Twitter on Thursday to slam Facebook over the latest privacy updates for the supposedly secure encrypted messaging app WhatsApp. Musk instead, users were advised to choose the encrypted messaging app Signal.

The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter boss Jack Dorsey. Shortly afterwards, Signal tweeted that it was working to deal with the increase in new users.

This is not the first time Musk has publicly spread with Facebook due to privacy concerns. In 2018, he not only had his own personal Facebook page removed, but also his companies Tesla and SpaceX. However, his perception of the long-running battle between Signal and WhatsApp is not off-base.

Both of them encrypted messaging apps has been found to have security flaws over the years that have been resolved. For years, WhatsApp has openly collected certain user data to share with parent company Facebook. The latest political change only expands that. Signal, on the other hand, has a camp history any device that requests your data, and adds features to further anonymize you where possible.

Here’s the basics of Signal you should know if you are interested in using the secure messaging app.

What Signal is and how encrypted message works

Signal is a typical one-touch installation app that you find on your regular marketplaces like the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, and works just like the regular text messaging app. It is an open source development service offered free of charge by the non-profit organization Signal Foundation, and has been known for many years by high-profile privacy icons such as Edward Snowden.

Signal’s main feature is that it can send text, video, audio and video messages protected by end-to-end encryption, after verifying your phone number and allowing you to independently verify the identity of other Signal users. You can also use it to make voice and video calls, either one-to-one or with a group. For a deeper dive into potential pitfalls and limitations of encrypted messaging apps, CNET Laura Hautalas explains is a lifeguard. But for our purposes, the key is Signal encryption.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the term, end-to-end encryption is simple: Unlike regular SMS messaging apps, it distorts your messages before sending them and only releases them to the verified recipient. This prevents law enforcement, your mobile operator and other snooping devices from being able to read the contents of your messages even when they are eavesdropping (which happens more often than you might think).

When it comes to privacy, it is difficult to beat Signal’s offer. It does not store your user data. And beyond the encryption capability, it gives you extended on-screen privacy options, including app-specific locks, glossy pop-ups, face-blur anti-surveillance tools and disappearing messages. Sometimes mistakes have proven that technology is far from bulletproof, of course, but the overall arc of Signal’s reputation and results has kept it at the top of any privacy expert’s list of identity protection tools.

For many years, the most important privacy challenge for Signal was not in the technology, but in the broader adoption. Sending an encrypted signal message is great, but if the recipient does not use Signal, your privacy may be zero. Think of it as herd immunity created by vaccines, but for your messaging privacy.

However, now that Musk and Dorsey’s endorsements have sent a wave of users to get a privacy enhancement shot, the challenge may be a thing of the past.


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