January 17, 2021


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Signal vs Telegram: How WhatsApp’s rival messenger apps compare on privacy amid data sharing concerns

2 min read

Whatsapp will soon start sharing your data with Facebook if you live outside of Europe.

The messaging service was bought by Mark Zuckerberg’s company back in 2014. At the time, it told users their data would be kept private and not shared with its new parent company.

Whatsapp reversed this pledge in 2016 and started sharing data with Facebook, though allowed users to opt out.

After an upcoming update, personal data will be shared with Facebook as a condition of using the app.

Thanks to tougher privacy laws, this will not be the case in Europe, including the UK.

However, this could change later this year, when Whatsapp moves the UK to its US jurisdiction, now it is no longer part of the EU.

This is prompting people to look for alternative options.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 05, 2020 the logo of US social network Facebook and mobile messaging service WhatsApp are seen on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. - US federal and state antitrust enforcers filed suit against Facebook on December 9, 2020 claiming the social media giant abused its dominant position with its acquisitions of messaging services Instagram and WhatsApp. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)
Whatsapp is making it mandatory to share your data with Facebook (Photo: Getty)


Signal uses Open Whisper System to automatically end-to-end encrypt all conversations.

Encryption keys are stored on users’ phones and computers, minimising the risk of them being spoofed. You will also be notified if any of your contacts’ encryption key changes.

Users can verify each other using either a passcode of numbers or by scanning a QR code, which means Signal holds almost no data about you.

The app does not store metadata, logs, or information on its users. It also does not store a record of your contacts, conversations, locations, profile name, avatar, group memberships or group titles. 

Your chats do not get backed up by default, but you can choose to back them up to a secure cloud if you wish.

There is also a setting which allows you to receive “sealed” messages from non-contacts with whom you have not shared your profile, an option that hides your IP address, and a self-destructing messages option that disappear completely after a set time.


Telegram uses its own end-to-end encryption service called MTProto. However, it is not entirely open source.

Its default cloud chat messaging system is not end-to-end encrypted, with chats stored on Telegram’s servers and backed up to a cloud. This means Telegram can gain access to your messages.

However, it also has a secret chat option, which is encrypted. Messages sent through secret chat can only be read on the device you sent them to.

Like Signal, you can also sent self-destructing messages which will disappear after a set amount of time.

Telegram copies your address book to its servers, and does not thoroughly encrypt all metadata. All in all, is has fewer security features than Signal.


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