Signal users in India started talking to themselves as contacts won’t join Signal

WhatsApp vs Signal

Remember anything about the messaging platform or app called Signal? Yeah, at least you remember the name. But sadly, those who uninstalled WhatsApp and installed Signal are talking to themselves as their family and friends won’t join Signal.

This “note to self” feature of Signal was very much appreciated when the join Signal movement was on peak in the beginning of this year. Its users still appreciate it, but in India, it has become more like an app with just a “talk to self” feature.

The info part- Signal vs WhatsApp

In January 2021, many potential influencers like Elon Musk, Edward Snowden, Anand Mahindra and Jack from Twitter gave fuel to this use/join Signal movement after the release of controversial new privacy policy of WhatsApp.

The Social media giant Facebook owned WhatsApp asked users to accept its new privacy policy which would have enabled Facebook to access some of the private data of its users.

The concerning part was that it included not only the phone model and OS, but payment, browser, location info and more. Information that helps them serve them better ads to you and that could be leaked anytime. This is a concern because Facebook has a history of “accidently” violating users’ right.

Although Facebook later clarified it via some press releases and in-app popups to maintain trust over its huge user base.

Facebook clarified as, “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way, Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.

There was a huge cry on the internet about switching to the potential alternatives like Signal and Telegram. Both of these apps also saw an immense rise on the play store and app store. The Signal app even became the most popular app on the Apple’s app store with millions of new installs.

India’s youth also reacted to the trend and joined Signal. But as I’m writing this article today, most of them have already uninstalled or are not even using it once a day. Regular users of Signal are only those who are highly conscious about their privacy.

Why?

There can be many reasons why smaller WhatsApp rivals like Signal couldn’t convert millions of users they got overnight.

Also read: Man disappointed as his car won’t run on data, claims data is NOT the new oil

You might know all the security benefits of using Signal over WhatsApp, but one thing no one can deny to is that its popularity and craze in India is almost invincible for now. You can switch to any messaging app available out there but what’s the use if there’s no one to send message to?

Yeah, right. You get the core point here. WhatsApp has become the daily go-to messaging app for Indians and it cannot be replaced until a critical mass of users start using it.

What about the privacy?

About security and privacy concerns by Edward Snowden, one of the most famous security researcher in the world right now, he has also pointed out some issues in the India’s biometric identity system, the Aadhaar in the past.

Edward Snowden on Aadhaar

What happened to the Aadhaar? It’s working all over India now. And the reason that experts believe in is the ease and user experience it provides. Actually Aadhaar has made many services and processes very simple that people are appreciating this system.

Maybe we need more people like Snowden to make people realize what privacy means and why it matters.

Similar is the case of WhatsApp. There’s a common saying and understanding, “if something has killed SMS(s), then it’s definitely WhatsApp“. When WhatsApp entered the market, the SMS charges were really very high and the solution(WhatsApp) was very much better choice than the existing one and with the decrease in the internet data prices after Reliance launched Jio it flourished like never before.

Can Signal actually bring WhatsApp down?

Even if we ignore and forget the issues with the contact syncing, account verification and many other issues that are being reported by the users of Signal considering the sudden spike in the number of users, there are a lot of other challenges that Signal has to face in order to retain users.

The first being the people getting used to the user friendly interface and features provided by WhatsApp. Signal is working on those features and the interface, but is that enough? The answer would be no.
Not only businesses, but the customers also prefer WhatsApp over other platforms because it provides them a friendly ecosystem to do business and reach out to their loved ones at the same time.

The next biggest challenge that Signal has in front of it is the revenue model. The interesting thing to know here is that actually Signal is a non-profit organization, but someone has to pay the maintenance and server charges. Also, it claims “there will never be ads” on its platform.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to know how Signal comes up with a revenue model without violating the rights of its users as we all know nothing comes for free.

But you might have heard that WhatsApp claims to serve end-to-end encryption for messages and calls, is that not the case now? No, WhatsApp still has that end-to-end encryption feature, it’s just that it doesn’t encrypt metadata and Signal does. Signal goes even further by suggesting the users to use an incognito keyboard for Android instead of Gboard to keep your data away from Google.

Government of India challenging the new privacy policy of WhatsApp

However this new privacy policy of Facebook – WhatsApp does not explicitly violate any data law in India, but the Competition Commission of India has ordered an investigation into the new privacy policy by the messaging app.

Today, on April 22, Delhi high court rejected Facebook’s plea challenging the order by the Competition Commission of India. The government is also against the new privacy policy of Facebook, but Indians, unlike Europeans, cannot opt out of the policy because the data laws of India are still in discussion or consideration.

Important info that still matters:

  1. Signal is open source, so you can check their code regularly to understand how they handle users’ data if you a bit tech-ish.
  2. One more turning point that was not much talked about is that one of the co-founders of WhatsApp jumped ship by leading and cheering the Signal app. Interesting, right?
  3. You don’t need an actual phone number to get a Signal account, that’s why it is getting very popular among cyber criminals and rioters.

So, if you’re using Signal in India, you should talk to your contacts via call or email, otherwise you can become one of those people who talk to themselves. That’s funny enough, right?

Share this story with your friends who have become one of those and their only “mistake” was that they stood by their right to privacy, LOL.

About ᴾᴿᴼᵍʳᵃᵐᵐᵉʳ

Linux and Python enthusiast, in love with open source since 2014, Writer at programming-articles.com, India.

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