Best of three: WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal

WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal: Which messenger app suits you best?

Last week, WhatsApp revised the terms of service and user-privacy policy for its messenger app. It asked people to either the accept the terms before February 8, 2021 or else feel free to delete the application on the phone.

WhatsApp has clarified that individual and group chat conversations will remain end-to-end encrypted, and that data will be never accessed for marketing ads or any other purposes.

But chat conversations between enterprise/business owners and customers on WhatsApp can be used by Facebook and its entities. There are other transparency issues which the company hasn't addressed.

As per the new policy, if the user interacts with any business enterprise on the messenger app, Facebook and its companies can collect user phone numbers, other people’s phone numbers stored in the contact list, profile names, status messages, financial details and more on WhatsApp to market and send ads to the users.

This has angered WhatsApp customers and tech critics. Many are planning to shift base to Signal and Telegram. So, which is better of the two? Or should you continue with WhatsApp?

To make an informed decision, DH will list out all details on how much data is being tracked by these apps.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp's new terms and user-privacy policy is really long and tedious to fully understand for the common users. But thanks to Apple's recently introduced App Privacy chart on App Store, we can present them in simple understandable points.


WhatsApp User-Privacy Details on Apple App Store (screen-grab)

Data linked to the user and stored by WhatsApp
Purchase History (if you buy any product or interact with the shop owner on WhatsApp)
Location
Coarse Location
Contact Info (Email Address & Phone Number)
User Content
Other User Content
Identifiers (User ID & Device ID)
Usage Data
Product Interaction
Advertising Data
Diagnostics
Crash Data
Performance Data
Other Diagnostic Data
Financial Info (Payment Info)

The company says that all the above user data including Identifiers (Device ID) and Usage Data (Advertising Data) will be used for Developer’s Advertising or Marketing services. 
That's a really long list and also it is a bit unsettling to know that Facebook will have access to such information that can easily be used a create an identifiable profile of the user and flood them with targeted ads from clients including product companies or push an article from a political party to sway election (remember Cambridge Analytica scandal?).

Telegram
On the other hand Telegram Messenger, developed by Russia-based Nikolai and Pavel Durov brothers, asks for very little useful information. 
User ID (email ID) 
Phone number (of the owner and people in the contact list). 

It's not much compared to WhatsApp. There is one annoying notification feature. If anyone in the user's contact list joins the  messenger app, it auto pushes an alert that this person has joined Telegram. 


Telegram app on Apple App Store (screen-grab)

Also, another issue with Telegram is that it does not offer end-to-end encryption by default and but on the bright side, it has a special secret chat feature that nobody even Telegram can't access or store. It can be viewed only by the sender and the receiver. If the timer is set for the message, it will self-destruct after the expiry of the set time. Also, calling on Telegram is E2EE.

Telegram offers a cloud storage option, but it has a risk of getting decrypted if any person gets hold of the user's account ID (either Google Drive/ iCloud) and password. Also, Telegram servers do have access to the encryption key.

One of the advantages of using Telegram is that it has a 2GB limit for sending any document or media content, much higher than any popular messenger apps in the market.

Signal - Private Messenger
If you are one of those who consider personal privacy paramount for communication, then Signal is the best option.


Signal app on Apple App Store (screen-grab)

It asks for just the phone number to register and get a unique user ID. That's it. You can invite your friends or start chatting with people who are already installed Signal with no worry of being tracked. Nobody including Signal has access to the messages or multimedia content transferred between people on the messenger app or over the server.

One disadvantage of Signal is that it doesn't offer a cloud storage option. This means, if you lose your phone or accidentally factory reset the phone, you will lose all the chats and contacts. You won't be able to sync any old data back to the new phone and have to start all over again.

Our Choice
To us, Telegram Messenger is best out of three for two reasons-- 1) you can always use the secret chat feature for secured communication 2) Have the privilege to transfer 2GB of content with ease 

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