Signal, download boom: WhatsApp abandoned by users

The Signal app experienced a download boom in just a few hours , causing a real migration of WhatsApp users. Thanks to the new privacy policy of the app and a tweet from a certain Elon Musk, Signal has seen its users grow exponentially since last January 7th. Usages have increased so much that for a few hours the servers have been congested, delaying the sending of verification codes to activate accounts.

WhatsApp and its new privacy

The privacy policy update and Tesla CEO tweet are putting WhatsApp through a hard time. For several days now, users of the app have been notified of a change in the data collected and the way it is used . The update is aimed at protecting the sharing of user information, which is shared with Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The user, having read the information, must accept it by February 8, 2021: after this date, if he has not accepted the new policies, he will not be able to use the application.

The Whatsapp popup with the privacy policy. Credits: Wired
The Whatsapp popup with the privacy policy. Credits: Wired

The change of rules does not actually involve European users, even accepting the new terms, but the message has nevertheless generated lengthy debates. For the European Union, in fact, there will be no changes to privacy : WhatsApp has only made explicit and requested confirmation of the rules for sharing that it has always used. The situation is different for users outside the EU: in this case, the data can be transferred to third parties by Facebook to show personalized alerts and offers.

European negotiations and the GDPR prevent Facebook Inc. from using user data in this way, so in EU countries the warning is different than in the rest of the world. However, the popup generated alarmism: many users thought they were dealing with fake news or malware , and the web exploded into general confusion. This has benefited Signal, which has seen downloads grow in a few days against WhatsApp.

Signal: what is the app that made the download boom

Signal is presented as an alternative to WhatsApp first and then to Telegram. It is an open source application that uses end-to-end encryption algorithms for text, files, video and audio. The app provides an additional level of security with the possibility for users of a chat to verify the identity of their interlocutors : by comparing their respective security codes, you are authenticated and the conversation can begin.

The Signal app has experienced a download boom against WhatsApp. Credits: India TV News
The Signal app has experienced a download boom against WhatsApp. Credits: India TV News

Calls and messages are encrypted with the SRTP protocol , and texts are stored on the phone (or PC) and not on the server. However, you can choose to store files and messages on servers in encrypted form, using a personal PIN. The security practices adopted by Signal are effective against the Man in the Middle attack, preventing the insertion of an external attacker into the conversation.

Many big names have repeatedly praised the application, recommending its use. Edward Snowden and Elon Musk have claimed to use it and have repeatedly urged users to use it. The most attentive fans of Mr Robot will remember seeing it over the seasons, used as a safe and private channel to organize attacks without being detected. Signal, thanks to its privacy and security policies, could now experience great growth and surpass both WhatsApp and Telegram .

Elon Musk's tweet

The privacy debate reopened by the WhatsApp warning has "awakened" the whole world, and even Elon Musk has made himself heard. With a tweet of the last few days he again advised users to switch to Signal, and this time the invitation has taken root more, giving a hand to the abandonment of WhatsApp. The entrepreneur has always distanced himself from Zuckerberg, eliminating the Tesla and SpaceX pages from Facebook .

Elon Musk's tweet in favor of downloading Signal instead of WhatsApp.
Elon Musk's tweet in favor of downloading Signal instead of WhatsApp.

A strong push that coincided with the download boom for Signal and the abandonment of WhatsApp by users. The unexpected migration of users put the app servers in difficulty, which for a few hours found themselves congested. The effect of Musk's tweet did not only have positive effects on Signal: the company Signal Advance has in fact seen its stock market value increase by 438% . Too bad, however, that the two companies have nothing in common.

Since last Thursday, the company has increased its earnings by 11,708%: investors have literally stormed the company's stocks, causing its value to grow enormously. The company is a healthcare company and has nothing to do with the messaging app , which isn't even listed on the stock exchange. Signal Advance promptly warned its investors, but that didn't stop its stocks from skyrocketing. A positive implication for the company, albeit in the short term and the result of a mistake and the “market fever”.

The value of Signal Advance stocks after Elon Musk's tweet. Credits: Online Finance
The value of Signal Advance stocks after Elon Musk's tweet. Credits: Online Finance

In short, a not exactly rosy period for WhatsApp. Privacy is an issue that has always been at the center of debates, and in recent times it has particularly interested users, even in Italy . Will the migration to Signal be only temporary, or will users actually change their favorite messaging app?

The Signal article , download boom: WhatsApp abandoned by users comes from Tech CuE .