Switching to Signal

The very short version:

I am uninstalling Facebook Messenger switching to Signal on my phone. I will still be checking Messenger, but only when I am logged in on a computer. If you want to catch me on-the-go, Signal is the way to go 📱

That was it. If you have other things to do, feel free to leave. If you are curious why, then read on 😊

But… why?

Well.. for a number of reasons. Signal is…

Let’s dive just a bit more into details…

First: It is ad free
This was the initiating ball for me. For many years, I have been using the Messenger Lite app from Facebook / Meta. It was ad free and had way less features than the full app. Features I did not mind missing out on.

However, from September 18th 2023, Messenger Lite will be shut down, and one has to install the full Messenger app – including ads – in order to use the service (on the phone). I would like to keep my day-to-day life as ad-free as possible and thus will not be installing the full app.

One argument for accepting ads in your day-to-day life is that it is part of the internet economy. I see that, but I also envision a better way. Without going in to this discussion here, I will just note that the Signal app offers the possibility to donate to / support the app.

Second: It is open source
This is great because it gives three important benefits to the project:

  • It can be peer reviewed. So when they claim that it is end-to-end encrypted and done so securely, people can review the code and verify it for themselves. One example of this is the cross-institutional audit A Formal Security Analysis of the Signal Messaging Protocol.
  • If you find a bug, or if you want to contribute with a feature to the app, then you can do so via pull requests. Yes, I know… not everybody know how to write software… but those of you who do…
  • If the projects is ever shut down (or taken in an unwanted direction), in theory it can be forked (copied) and started up again. I know… then you have to migrate users and stuff… but with proprietary software you are completely starting from scratch.

Third: End-to-end encryption
It may not be something you think about in your day-to-day life and some would argue that I have nothing to hide. I don’t want to go into a deep debate here, but I have been stumbling upon a few quotes that made me favor 100% on the pro-encryption side:

  • Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide, is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.Edward Snowden
  • Because a citizenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyone’s. Saying that you don’t need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no-one should have or could have to hide anything.comment on Hacker New

But what about WhatsApp and Telegram?

Good questions…

WhatsApp is owned by Meta / Facebook and thus, I believe, it is only a matter of time before they “need” to start monetizing that investment.

Telegram is owned / run by the Russian-born brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. While they did move out of Russia it still does raise a flag. Also, Wikipedia writes that Since 2017, the company has been based in Dubai. It has a complex corporate structure of shell companies to delay complying with government subpoenas. [Quoted by this article from The New York Times, that is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall.] I am unsure whether the subpoenas in question are from Russia, or from other (western) countries. However, it does not sound promising either way.

So… while I can be found on WhatsApp and Telegram, I prefer to make (what I deem to be) the right choice from the start 😊

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