What is Signal and can it be a serious competitor to WhatsApp?

“Use Signal” – a simple tweet by newly-minted richest man in the world, Elon Musk, brought this hitherto lesser known cross-platform encrypted messaging service, to global prominence. According to various media reports, Signal app – along with Telegram – are witnessing a massive migration of Whatsapp users to these two apps. The new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service announced by WhatsApp has raised privacy concerns of users it is now clear that user data is being shared with Facebook and other apps and services of Facebook.

Signal was launched back in 2014 as a successor to RedPhone and TextSecure by the non-profit Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC. However, Signal grew in the number of users only in 2019 and 2020.

Signal’s website states, “State-of-the-art end-to-end encryption (powered by the open source Signal Protocol) keeps your conversations secure. We can’t read your messages or listen to your calls, and no one else can either. Privacy isn’t an optional mode – it’s just the way that Signal works. Every message, every call, every time.” Moreover, “there are no ads, no affiliate marketers, and no creepy tracking in Signal. So focus on sharing the moments that matter with the people who matter to you.”

Signal tweeted about the huge surge in traffic that they are seeing and the delay in signing up users. After working with the carriers to get the verification process aligned, Signal even thanked the carrier and informed about the registration process being up to date without any delay.

It stated, “To help welcome everyone coming to Signal, we’ve opened an AMA over on r/technology @reddit. We want to hear from as many of you (old and new) as possible to continue to improve the app and answer any questions about who we are!”

Signal topped the charts among free apps overtaking Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, among others. “Look at what you’ve done,” tweeted Signal, showing how the app has grown in India.

With the dawn of a new year, does it also signify the emergence of newer players to challenge the existing monopolistic players? Can Signal and Telegram dethrone the likes of Whatsapp? Will they be able to keep up with the massive consumer expectations? It’s an interesting wait and watch.


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