“Use Signal’: The hype these two words of Elon Musk have created in the past few days!
Well, if you aren’t living inside a box, you must be aware of the current situation which took the internet as well as the stock market by storm. If you don’t know, this incident revolves around WhatsApp’s recent privacy policies to Elon Musk’s tweet, which recommended using another social network app Signal.
WhatsApp’s new privacy norms are being criticized everywhere. In light of this, Elon musk recently uploaded a tweet suggesting using the Signal app. And as if people were waiting for this with their mobile phones in hand, just within a day, Signal became the most downloaded app in the Google play store and Apple app store around the globe. Moreover, the hype was so chaotic that after this tweet, the share price of an entirely different company called Signal Advance Inc. increased by 6350%!
Let’s talk about the events that took place in the last few days and understand the crux of the whole situation.
The whole trouble started when WhatsApp introduced a new policy that seeks the right to share user data such as location and phone number, with Facebook and Instagram as part of its new privacy terms. WhatsApp has asked its users to accept the policy till February 8. Additionally, it is also working on launching its payments service.
These new norms and terms have triggered a backlash from everywhere, inciting debates on data privacy. Affected by this situation, many of WhatApp’s users have started migrating to platforms such as Telegram and Signal, in the middle of worries about Facebook’s poor and controversial record of managing user data.
In light of this controversy, WhatsApp came forward in self-defence and tweeted, “We want to address some rumours and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption.” WhatsApp has published advertisements on various newspapers as well to convince people that their data is safe.
The Union government of India also came forward to address this issue, and the officials of the Information technology ministry said that they were monitoring the developments.
The government is preparing a personal data protection bill, which is presently going through an evaluation of a parliamentary board. The bill recommends prohibiting companies from gathering users’ data overseas.
Elon Musk suggests Signal
When critics raised the WhatsApp data privacy issue, Elon Musk put up a tweet on Twitter, suggesting using the messaging app Signal and it was from here, that the chaos began.
The Signal became one of the most downloaded apps on Apple App Store on Monday, days after Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its privacy terms.
Users were downloading and registering on the Signal app in such huge numbers that they started facing issues in the verification process.
The Signal is known in the industry for its healthy management of its user data. It is a messaging company which has its own pros and cons. But when the world’s richest man suggests using the app, the enthusiasm and the huge number of downloads can be understood.
It should be noted that although Elon Musk has donated funds in Signal, the Signal app still is an independent non-profit company.
The share price surge of Signal Advance Inc.
The extreme share price surge of Signal Advance Inc. in the past few days shows the power and popularity that Elon Musk holds, such that his one single tweet sent a company’s stock prices soaring high up in the sky.
The shares of Signal Advance Inc. hit the roof when the Tesla CEO tweeted “Use Signal” on January 7. However, the hilarious fact here is that the Signal mentioned by Musk is the encrypted messaging service and app. It was made by a non-profit organization the Signal Foundation, which is not a listed company.
Investors around the world and fans of the world’s current richest person immediately purchased shares of Signal Advance; a technology component manufacturing company headquartered in Texas which trades under the ticker SIGL on the stock exchange but has no association to the messaging app.
Before Musk’s tweet, the shares of Signal Advance had never crossed over 60 cents. However, due to the sudden and massive stock purchases, the share price closed at $3.76 on January 7, and $7.19 on January 8. Drive enhanced even more on January 12, persuading the closing price to $38.70, a rise of an exorbitant 6350% over three trading periods.
The messaging app Signal (the one mentioned by Musk), even tweeted and clarified that Signal Advance Inc. is not related to it. Furthermore, 501c3 in the USA means an independent non-profit company, which does not have to file taxes with the government.
WhatsApp vs Signal vs Telegram
It is noteworthy that WhatsApp does not decode your backups (cloud or local). Additionally, WhatsApp does not encrypt metadata, not like Signal, which is used to carry communication between two endpoints. WhatsApp group chats have been previously discovered to be indexed on Google search, which is a major data breach fact.
Despite its secret chats feature, the group chats on Telegram are not encrypted (unless enabled by user), which only backs single-user communication.
From the user privacy viewpoint, Signal poses the maximum secured structure of communication you can get on the internet. However, Signal does not have a lot of features as compared to WhatsApp and Telegram. Signal, by default, encodes all the local files with a 4-digit passphrase. It furthermore supports encrypted group calls.
Following is the list of data; every messaging app gathers from their users:
WhatsApp Data Collection
- Device ID
- User ID
- Advertising Data
- Purchase History
- Coarse Location
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Product Interaction
- Crash Data
- Performance Data
- Other Diagnostic Data
- Payment Info
- Customer Support
- Product Interaction
- Other User Content
Telegram Data Collection
- User ID
- Contact Info
Signal Data Collection
- Only stores your phone number
User data privacy is a vital thing for everyone using online communication platforms, and hence, a consumer should not compromise on this. The government too, should look after the messaging ecosystem and regulate them so that user’s data can be preserved.
For instance, in the European Union, the users have the option to accept or decline the updated policies, unlike India, where we are forced to choose the new policy. It also shows the hypocrisy of tech firms who provide options in the EU but not in countries like India.
At last, privacy is a personal matter, and data selling is a real thing. Tech companies are using it for their own profits and benefits. Hence, it is up to users to be aware of everything around them and not just blindly accept the terms and conditions they see everywhere. Read carefully, and choose wisely!