“We’re seeing a heightened awareness [to privacy] because it’s in our face constantly about how our data is being used,” explained Steve Tcherchian, a cybersecurity expert at XYPRO Technology Corp. “Facebook doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to privacy data protections.”
“If I send an encrypted message to somebody, they’re the only person with the key to unlock that message, no one else can see it, not even the application developer,” explained Tcherchian.
Because of the backlash, WhatsApp has now delayed its changes until May 15 – they were supposed to take effect in February.
But that hasn’t stopped millions of users from downloading alternatives, including Telegram and Signal.
Telegram is a messaging app headquartered in Dubai with 500 million users. The company says 25 million people recently joined.
Meanwhile, Signal is backed by one of the original founders of WhatsApp. It’s grown so quickly in recent days there have been various technical issues.
Still, Signal is one of the most secure ways to exchange messages since it uses end-to-end encryption by default – that means no one can see what you send.
“Over the last few months I’ve been using Signal more and more… and being familiarizing myself and the features and capabilities and what’s its able to do, so I’m getting a little more comfortable with it and I’m really, really proud of their privacy stance,” concluded Tcherchian.
Telegram also offers end to end encryption, but it’s not turned on by default for new chats. When you first start a chat with someone, you have to choose the option for a “secret chat” for maximum security.
Also, it should be noted that while many are up in arms about WhatsApp’s upcoming changes, they don’t affect the privacy of personal messages in any way. WhatsApp – and owner Facebook – still can’t read the contents of your personal messages, even if they wanted to.
Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need to switch to a new messaging app if you’re happy with WhatsApp. After all, the trickiest part of any new messaging app is getting a majority of your friends and family on board.