Why we recommend only Signal as a WhatsApp alternative

We often see blogs and tweets come by recommending multiple WhatsApp alternatives. About Privacy chooses not to, and it’s not because there are no other good options.

WhatsApp is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook). Meta derives most of its revenue from the exploitation of user data. WhatsApp messages are is end-to-end encrypted, so your messages cannot be read by employees of WhatsApp or Meta unless a WhatsApp user reports a message.

But we previously wrote an article about WhatsApp that made it clear that WhatsApp collects a lot of metadata. Analyzing metadata allows you to learn a lot about a person. Ifyou have enough metadata, according to Edward Snowden, you don’t need the content of a message at all. Metadata tells you everything about someone’s life. Not for nothing that Meta (then Facebook) plunked down $19 billion to buy WhatsApp in 2014.

Signal as the only alternative

Most privacy blogs recommend several WhatsApp alternatives. The irony is that this helps WhatsApp in 3 ways:

  1. A messaging app only works if your friends are also using it.
    A new user is more likely to join a network that his friends are already members of. It is difficult for existing users to switch to another service for the same reason, this is called the lock-in effect or network effect.
  2. Spreading people across multiple apps
    This increases the likelihood of needing multiple apps to communicate with everyone. I don’t think many people feel like installing Signal, Telegram, Session and element in addition to WhatsApp. Profit for WhatsApp.

  3. Too much choice causes people to make no choice at all.
    Having a lot of choice has two negative consequences. You don’t choose any option because you find it difficult to choose something with so many choices. Then when you do choose something, you are less satisfied with your choice than if there were fewer options to choose from. Another win for WhatsApp.

So we recommend one app. Because of the above reasons AND because I am convinced that Signal is the best alternative right now.