If you’re not caught up on all of the latest news surrounding messaging apps and their privacy features, then you’re missing out on one of the most prominent discussions of app privacy this century. The uproar led WhatsApp to make changes to their privacy features, but is that enough?
Most people are worried about data sharing privacy. One study reveals that 40% of people were worried that their personal information would be sold to third parties and used without their consent. The kicker? They’re not quite sure what to do about it.
If you’re also unsure how to protect your privacy online while using messaging apps, let’s first examine the safety differences between WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal. Then, we’ll dive into an alternative that can also help you protect your identity online.
What to Know About WhatsApp’s Privacy Features
What do you need to know about the update? It allows companies that Facebook owns to have access to the data of WhatsApp users. This means that any Facebook-owned company or affiliate can access your data, including your purchase history, advertising data, and even your email address.
Facebook, which has frequently been the target of criticism for the incorrect use of user data, uses this data to help third-party affiliates market products, create advertising campaigns, and more. Because the two are connected, you might feel a little exposed (and rightfully so).
WHATSAPP FEATURES AT-A-GLANCE:
- WhatsApp is currently the largest instant messaging service in the world, with more than 2 billion active users.
- This application comes equipped with everything most users are looking for in a messaging app, including:
- Group video calls
- WhatsApp Stories
- The ability to send photos, videos, and audio files
- Real-time location sharing
- Backup and restoration of messages and data
- End-to-end data encryption
What to know about Telegram’s privacy features
Today, Telegram is one of the best alternatives to WhatsApp as it offers various better options than those usually offered by other traditional messaging apps (yeah, namely WhatsApp).
Beyond the higher-level encryption, however, which leads to a better ability to protect chats, Telegram takes their offers a bit further and offers secret chats. This means that you’re able to activate a feature that offers protection against screenshots and other actions that might compromise your identity, safety, or privacy.
TELEGRAM FEATURES AT-A-GLANCE:
- Telegram collects less data than WhatsApp.
- It’s well-known for its massive group chats and features like groups with bots, surveys, questionnaires, and more for enhanced group messaging.
- Standard safety and privacy features include:
- Option to activate self-destructing messages (i.e., messages that disappear after a while)
- The app uses usernames instead of phone numbers for contacts
It’s worth noting that Telegram does offer other cool functions that aren’t safety-related, such as the ability to view Youtube videos in a floating window and a “personal broadcast channel” function.
What to know about Signal’s privacy features
Signal is another messaging app that’s become a popular alternative to WhatsApp or Telegram. This application differs in that its main focus is actually on offering maximum privacy. The end-to-end encryption is really the talk of the town when it comes to comparing Signal to WhatsApp, and honestly even to Telegram. Why? It’s so high-level that Edward Snowden even recommended it.
Signal uses an end-to-end encryption protocol known as Open Whispers Systems for all its communications, which means that messages are already encrypted when they leave your phone and are only decrypted when they get to the other person’s phone. This encryption is very popular, so much so that WhatsApp decided to use it (but no, it’s not 100% the same).
On a basic level, Signal is pretty simple in that you can send texts, audio messages, images, or video messages that are fully encrypted to a person or a group. All you have to do is verify your phone number, which Signal does with all of its users to ensure maximum safety.
The app also offers several customizable privacy options and locking features within the app.
SIGNAL’S FEATURES AT-A-GLANCE:
- Signal doesn’t collect your data, and it only asks for your phone number when signing up.
- The app is free and doesn’t feature any ads.
- The code is open-source.
WhatsApp vs. Signal vs. Telegram
By now, we all (likely) know that WhatsApp is the least safe option when it comes to WhatsApp vs. Signal vs. Telegram. But let’s take a look at all of the information that WhatsApp collects vs. what Signal collects.
WhatsApp collects your:
- Device ID
- User ID
- Advertising data
- Shopping history
- Phone number
- Email address
- Interaction with products
- Blocking data
- Performance data
- Other diagnostic data
- Payment information
- Interaction with products
Now, compare that to what Signal collects:
- Signal only stores your phone number
Quite the difference, right? No wonder Edward Snowden recommends Signal.
Alternatives to Telegram and Signal
So, we’ve ruled out WhatsApp for the time being, but what about alternatives to Telegram and Signal? We know of one that’s particularly useful for protecting your identity, and it might be obvious. Go ahead, guess!
Yep, it’s Burner.
Burner might be known for being a temporary phone number app or even for being a second phone number app for business, but it’s so much more than that. We’re really in the business of protecting your privacy, whatever that means to you.
While Burner doesn’t offer location sharing, video calls, or a few of the other popular features in messaging apps like Telegram and Signal, it does offer a few other perks that they don’t, including robocall blocking with Nomorobo, integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, and more. Burner also has a built-in API, so you can create your own integrations if you want something more sophisticated that’s not in the basic app.
Burner’s safety features include:
- PIN lock
- Temporary phone number (you’re assigned a new number, or you choose one, rather, when signing up for a Burner phone; this means that your real number and identity are always protected)
- Robocall & spam call blocking
- The ability to “burn” the number at a moment’s notice (similar to self-destructing messages in that you can get rid of any trace of calls, texts, or images whenever you want)
- No formal registration, all you need is an existing phone number
Want to try it out? If you’re unsure of who’s the winner when it comes to WhatsApp vs. Telegram or Telegram vs. Signal, give Burner a try first to see how you like it.
Get your free phone number here.