Elon Musk says to use Signal instead of Facebook. What to know about the messaging app
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Shortly after, Signal tweeted that it was working to handle the surge of new users.
Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there.
— Signal (@signalapp) January 7, 2021
This isn’t the first time Musk has publicly sparred with Facebook over privacy concerns. In 2018, he not only had his own personal Facebook page removed, but those of his companies Tesla and SpaceX. His take on the long-fought battle between Signal and WhatsApp isn’t off-base, though.
Both of thehave been found over the years that have been resolved. For years, to share with parent company Facebook. Its latest policy change just expands that. Signal, on the other hand, has any entity that asks for your data, and you where possible.
Here are the basics of Signal you should know if you’re interested in using the secure messaging app.
What Signal is, and how encrypted messaging works
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. It’s an open source development provided free of charge by the non-profit Signal Foundation, and has been famously used for years by high-profile privacy icons like Edward Snowden.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 2, 2015
Signal’s main function is that it can send text, video, audio and picture messages protected by end-to-end encryption, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users’ identity. You can also use it to make voice and video calls, either one-to-one or with a group. For a deeper dive into the potential pitfalls and limitations of encrypted messaging apps, CNET’sis a life-saver. But for our purposes, the key to Signal is encryption.
Despite the buzz around the term, end-to-end encryption is simple: Unlike normal SMS messaging apps, it garbles up your messages before sending them, and only ungarbles them for the verified recipient. This prevents law enforcement, your mobile carrier and other snooping entities from being able to read the contents of your messages even when they intercept them (which happens).
When it comes to privacy it’s hard to beat Signal’s offer. It doesn’t store your user data. And beyond its encryption prowess, it gives you extended, onscreen privacy options, including app-specific locks, blank notification pop-ups, face-blurring anti-surveillance tools, and disappearing messages. Occasional bugs have proven that the tech is, of course, but the overall arc of Signal’s reputation and results have kept it at the top of every privacy-savvy person’s list of identity protection tools.
For years, the core privacy challenge for Signal lay not in its technology but in its wider adoption. Sending an encrypted Signal message is great, but if your recipient isn’t using Signal, then your privacy may be nil. Think of it like the herd immunity created by vaccines, but for your messaging privacy.
Now that Musk and Dorsey’s endorsements have sent a surge of users to get a privacy booster shot, however, that challenge may be a thing of the past.