Signal vs WhatsApp: A look at five privacy features

WhatsApp is one of the most loved and widely used messaging apps in India, but the company was recently under fire for its new privacy policy. Due to privacy concerns, several people switched to Signal even when WhatsApp reiterated that all the chats are encrypted and cannot be accessed by it or Facebook.

Signal is a private messaging app, which doesn’t just offer end-to-end encryption, but also offers privacy-oriented features and collects minimal user data. Here’s a quick look at five privacy features offered by both the messaging apps.

Signal privacy features

Screen Security: The app ensures that you can block others from taking screenshots of a chat. There is a feature called Screen Security, which prevents screenshots of all chats. You can enable it by heading to the Settings section > Privacy > Screen Security. While one can click pictures of a chat from any other device, Screen Security is still a good feature, which any private messaging app should offer to its users.

Incognito Keyboard: This is a great feature, which doesn’t allow your keyboard to save what you are typing. The company says once you enable the Incognito keyboard, your mobile “keyboard may stop learning from the input you type. Entries may not be remembered by your keyboard’s dictionary to be used later for autocomplete or as a suggestion.” For this, you just need to open the app, go to Settings section > Privacy > enable Incognito Keyboard.

Screen lock: You can set fingerprint lock on Signal, just like WhatsApp. Users can use their phone’s fingerprint sensor or passcode to access the app. However, do note that all the incoming calls on Signal can still be answered and one can reply to messages in the notifications panel.

Read receipts: Similar to WhatsApp, Signal has an option to disable or enable Read Receipts, which basically lets you know if someone has seen or not the messages. The messaging app also offers a feature to turn on or off typing indicators, meaning you can disable the option to show when a message is being typed. Both the features are available in the privacy section of the app.

Group invitation privacy: If you create a group in Signal, all your friends can’t be added automatically to the group. Once you enter the name of the people you want to create with, Signal sends an invite and they need to accept the invite to join the group. On WhatsApp, this is only possible when you change settings to “My Contacts except.” This is for who can add you to WhatsApp groups.

WhatsApp privacy features

Fingerprint lock: WhatsApp allows you to add a fingerprint lock to the app, so that only you can access your private messages. To enable this feature, you just need to visit Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint lock. This privacy feature in WhatsApp doesn’t block your calls and only hides your incoming messages. The platform allows you to turn on show content in notifications if you would like to preview message text inside new message notifications.

Group invitation system: Anyone on WhatsApp can add you to group if the person has your mobile number. If you don’t want anyone to add you in groups, then you can change the settings. The messaging app allows you to control who can add them to groups. For this, you get three options, including ‘Everyone,’ ‘My Contacts,’ and ‘My Contacts Except.’ The second option means that the contacts you have in your phone address book can add you to groups and the third one means not every contact can add you to a group. In this case, you will get an invitation for joining the group.

Profile privacy: WhatsApp gives you the power to control what details you share with others in your personal profile. You can hide your profile picture from ‘everyone’ or from your contacts. Though, you don’t have the option to choose as to who among your contacts can check your profile photo.

Last Seen privacy: Just like profile privacy, WhatsApp lets you hide your last seen, and Statuses as well. For Last Seen, you get the same options as mentioned for profile privacy.

Status privacy: For Status privacy, there are three options as to who can see your Status updates. These include ‘My Contact,’ ‘My Contacts except,’ and ‘Only Share with.’

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