Some technologists want you to believe that privacy and security are so important that maybe you should switch from Messages to something else. I understand the sentiment. Who wants the F.B.I. or your neighbor snooping through your messages?
Lock It Up
These days, there are many, many text messaging apps available across multiple platforms and most of them have a few things in common. Let’s take Signal as an example. Michael Grothaus recommends a shift from whatever you use now:
If you value your privacy, switch to Signal as your messaging app now
Is not Messages on everything Apple just as secure and private?
The world’s top two messaging apps have over a quarter of the people on the planet using them. WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users worldwide, and Facebook Messenger comes in a close second at 1.3 billion users worldwide
Yes, and Facebook has such a solid record on privacy and security. Those numbers tell me that most people don’t really care about privacy and security. They care about which messaging apps their friends and family use the most.
That’s why I use Messages. Encrypted end to end and since it uses SMS, too, I can communicate with almost anyone.
Time and time again it’s been shown that it’s dangerous to trust Facebook with our data. Yet, well over a billion people choose to send their most intimate messages over apps made by the company.
Nearly every Top 10 Messaging Apps list will have Facebook’s duo; plus, Line from Japan, WeChat from China, and others.
The thing about these lists of top messaging apps is that there’s always one notable absence: Signal is never on them. And that’s a shame, because Signal is the most secure, privacy-centric messaging app ever made.
Why should I use yet another messaging app when the one I use the most– Apple’s Messages– works on all my devices, and, thanks to SMS, allows me to connect to nearly every other smartphone on the planet?
There is a catch to using Messages, though. And it’s obvious why Facebook’s messages apps are the ones to be avoided.
Why jump ship from Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to Signal and not some other messaging platform? Because Signal is the only major messenger that runs on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, desktop) and steers clear of tracking you and your connections to other people.
Signal works everywhere so even if you are happy with Messages, and I am, having another messaging app that is even more secure and runs on more platforms might have some added benefit, especially if you use iCloud for Messages. iPhone, iPad, and Mac encrypt Messages text messages between devices and you control the entry key. Messages on iCloud is encrypted but Apple also holds a key and that means your messages are not completely secure.
Signal is different.
Signal does more than just encrypt your messages. It also hides virtually all of the metadata, including who sent the message. That means only the person who the message is being sent to can see who sent it to them. Signal has no way of telling who is sending you other Signal messages, nor does anyone else who intercepts a Signal message in transit. This is pretty much the most security you could ask for in a messaging app. And only Signal offers it.
So, what’s the problem?
Apple’s Messages can send text messages almost anywhere, but Signal requires the person on the other end to use Signal, too.
That’s why it’s difficult to switch.
Since it never makes the lists of the most popular messaging apps, many of your friends and family members probably aren’t using the app. And a messaging app is only useful if the people in your life are using it, too. So if you like the privacy Signal provides, it’s up to you to help spread the word.
Agreed. Signal is a good backup to Messages. If you have a message that needs more privacy and security, Signal fits. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, and everywhere else.