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With the rise in awareness of the importance of privacy, the secure messaging app Signal has gained massive popularity in 2021, with over 40 million people currently using it. Signal has been the communication method of choice for activists, privacy advocates, and people in the hacker community, mainly because of its end-to-end encryption, independent structure as a non-profit organization, and accessibility across different platforms.
Signal is investing in more infrastructure and features to support its users. In 2018, it received a $50 million donation from WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who wanted to create a truly private messaging service. Signal has created the encryption protocol that other companies such as WhatsApp and Skype use, which makes it the gold standard of privacy.
What is Signal and How Does it Work?
Signal is a free messaging and voice talk app that you can use on Apple and Android smartphones and desktops. With Signal, you can text or make voice or video calls with friends, either one-on-one or in groups, and use emoji reactions or stickers just like in other apps. However, unlike other messaging apps, Signal is actually private.
Is Signal Really Private and Secure?
Yes. All communications on Signal are end-to-end encrypted, which means only the people in the messages can access the content of those messages, not even the Signal company. Even sticker packs have their encryption. Signal collects virtually no data on its users and has no incentive to track them since it is a non-profit organization and thus does not rely on advertising revenue. All you need to provide to create an account is your phone number, which means Signal has no data it could provide to law enforcement agencies if they demand it.
Signal vs. Other Messaging Apps
Signal and WhatsApp both use the same end-to-end encryption technology, so they are both secure. However, WhatsApp collects usage statistics and other metadata, making it less private than Signal. Telegram is another option rising in popularity, but it is not end-to-end encrypted by default and is largely unmoderated, which makes it a hub for illegal activities and content, unlike Signal.
How to Join Signal
To create an account, download the latest version of Signal and register your phone number. You’ll receive an SMS message with a verification code, and you’ll have a Signal contact list that shows all the contacts saved in your phone that are also using Signal. You can text, voice, and video chat securely with any of them, and you can also manually add phone numbers of people not saved in your contacts.