Given that, there has been a lot of discussions as to which instant messaging app is the best privacy focussed alternative to WhatsApp.
Two names come up in conversations repeatedly with regards to WhatsApp alternatives - Telegram and Signal.
If it were for me, I'd make this very short and give you an answer right away as to which app is the best privacy focussed alternative to WhatsApp. However, in the interests of transparency, we will present you with our quick research comparing the three apps so that you can understand the final suggestion and conclusion.
First, and importantly, is the question of who owns each of these apps and/or how they are funded.
Both WhatsApp and Telegram are privately-owned. Also, if you may, both are controlled (from voting at a board-level perspective) by CEOs who have a background in creating social media platforms. Pavel Durov, together with his brother, is known for creating VK, one of Russia's largest social networking platforms. While on the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook and currently serves as its CEO.
With the Signal app, things are a bit different.
The app is run by a non-profit organization - the Signal Foundation. The Signal Foundation was founded in 2018 by Brian Acton and Moxie Marlinspike. Brian is the former co-founder of WhatsApp and also serves as the president of the foundation. He also funded the foundation with $50 million of his own money after selling WhatsApp to Facebook and leaving the company. Moxie created the Signal app before joining forces with Brian to form the Signal Foundation.
With the ownership of each app out the way, let's look at their key features and how they compare against each other as far as basic functionality is concerned.
From a functionality and features perspective, the three apps are relatively the same. The only key differences being that Telegram offers end-to-end encryption as an option when you specify a chat as a "secret chat" while both WhatsApp and Signal state that they offer end-to-end encryption across all communications made through their apps.
The other difference is that WhatsApp offers automatic cloud backups (once you've selected the option) to Google Drive or iCloud (your choice), while Telegram says it backs up encrypted chats to its servers. As far as Signal is concerned, it offers no automated cloud backups and only allows you to backup your chats to the internal hard drive of your mobile phone.
Now, onto the last and very important topic of privacy, which is why we are all having this conversation.
What data does each of these apps collect based on their Privacy Policies?
That they announced this change is interesting because since acquiring WhatsApp, Facebook has been consolidating infrastructure across its platforms to a point where it feels like this announcement was probably made purely for compliance purposes. After all, they own WhatsApp, eventually, they had to integrate it with all their other systems.
With that all out the way, I can finally say what I wanted to say at the beginning of this newsletter - go and download Signal if privacy is of importance to you.
Now that you are better informed in terms of deciding which instant messaging app best suits your privacy needs, here are the other top stories you must read today.
⚖️ It sounds like de-platforming by Big Tech companies is trending in 2021. Eldrid Jordaan, founder, and CEO of South African citizen engagement platform, GovChat, has asked the Competition Tribunal to stop Facebook from de-platforming his company's access to the WhatsApp Business API. More importantly, which jurisdiction applies in this case as Facebook Inc. and WhatsApp Inc. are not South African legal entities? Link
📴 Here we go again. Uganda's government has imposed social media restrictions in the country ahead of elections which are set to take place on Thursday, 14 January 2021. M7, as sometimes Uganda's President, Yoweri Museveni is known, says he imposed the restrictions because Facebook is taking sides in the upcoming elections. Ok, fair enough, but what about all the previous times your restricted social media ahead of elections? Link
👮 This brings us to why M7 is blaming Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg's company said it had taken down several Facebook accounts from Uganda linked to the country’s ministry of information. Facebook said these accounts were using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s presidential elections in the East African country. This is a very slippery slope as effectively Facebook can shape and influence the outcome of elections in Uganda. Link
📰 As we published the iAfrikan Daily Brief newsletter in 2020, we observed that digital transformation was among the top topics. Our editorial team has put a list together of the top 10 editions of the newsletter from 2020 you must read. Link
📵 Kenya's government requested that Apple unlock two iPhones that it says are involved in a police investigation, Apple has refused to unlock them. Link
🔖 This is a good read - "Is Big Tech Setting Africa Back?." Link
Quote of the day
If privacy is your biggest concern when it comes to instant messaging apps, Signal is the best popular option at the moment. (Tweet this)
Subcribe to our Daily Brief newsletterShare this via:
Insights and analysis into how business and technology impact Africa. We promise to leave you smarter and asking the right questions every time after you read it. Sent out every Monday to Friday.