There has been a lot of hype on social networks about people preparing to leave WhatsApp and turn to other Instant Messaging platforms like Telegram and Signal. Will users be better off?

You will have seen a lot in the news recently about WhatsApp and concerns about data privacy. A global outcry and many celebrity endorsements of rival channels have shocked users into looking for alternatives. As technology providers who were capturing 3 WhatsApp messages a second in 2020, we’ve had to think about whether any of our users will be switching. Here are our thoughts below.


Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram

By now you have probably seen the embarrassing table comparison of WhatsApp’s privacy labels compared to iMessage or what personal data is linked to you from Signal and Telegram platforms. This public shaming came at the same time WhatsApp were pushing new Terms and Conditions to their users. While the policy update remains open to interpretation and has since been postponed until May, it caused a widespread exodus from the Facebook messaging service.

So, who are the new WhatsApp rivals?

First, there is Telegram, released in 2013. This messaging service shot to fame during the largest demonstration in independent Belarusian history in protest of President Alexander Lukashenko. The platform was labelled Belarus’s leading source of information during a government-imposed internet blackout imposed by the leader. Since then, Telegram has surpassed 500 million active users, making it the serious contender for WhatsApp userbase.

Is Signal just a better version of WhatsApp but without the Facebook ties?

More recently, Signal has become the rising star, particularly due to its reputation for privacy. The app had nearly 7.5 million downloads in less than a week during the global wobble over WhatsApp terms of service, causing the platform to have a 24-hour outage (which has since been resolved).

It’s also worth noting that Signal is owned and funded by a nonprofit organization and co-founded by Brain Acton, who was also the co-founder of WhatsApp. Acton left WhatsApp 3 years before it was acquired by Facebook. So, is Signal just a better version of WhatsApp but without the Facebook ties?


Is Signal really better than WhatsApp?

 Well, from a security standpoint Signal seems to come out on top. WhatsApp has always been famous for its end-to-end encryption. This means that all of your calls, messages and photos can only be seen by you and the recipient. However, what WhatsApp doesn’t encrypt is information held in the metadata or cloud backups.

Similar to WhatsApp, Signal uses end-to-end encryption. The difference is that the app also encrypts the metadata, meaning the content of your message, who you are sending it to is all safe from prying eyes, even Signal can’t see who is messaging whom. The platform is also open source. This means that Signal can be examined by security professionals for any possible vulnerabilities. Something that is not possible with WhatsApp.


What does this mean for regulated firms?

The Financial Conduct Authority recently updated their guidance in the wake of prolonged remote working conditions, stating firms are now expected to “record all relevant communications when working outside of the office.”


WhatsApp use has caused major issues for compliance teams in 2020.

It’s safe to say that firms have struggled to monitor the remote worker (and still are in many cases). This new way of working has meant WhatsApp use has increased and this caused major issues for compliance teams in 2020. With new messaging services emerging, this problem is likely to get worse very quickly without the proper surveillance technology in place.


Which messaging service is the future? Our customer will decide 

As Zak Doffman at Forbes put it so eloquently, “a messaging platform is only as useful as its userbase”. Isn’t that the truth! 

For businesses, the main priority will be where their customers are.

 WhatsApp took over from Yahoo Messenger in a customer-led user migration. For businesses, the main priority for moving to another platform will be where their customers are. The message service market is dynamic and constantly on the move. There will always be new players emerging in the market, some will have more success than others. Has anyone heard of Blackberry or AOL messenger these days?

 Our job at VoxSmart is to answer the market and our clients need for capture and surveillance technology. We have already seen that some of Financial Services are using the Telegram platform to trade with their clients. As a result, our product teams are working to develop a Telegram recording solution, which will be ready for deployment in a few months’ time.

 As for Signal, our product teams are also looking at how this could be achieved, and we may see another new product announcement on the horizon if the demand is there. We are always looking to develop client-led technology that will better serve their business so Get in touch to see how we could help your business stay compliant with emerging technology solutions.


If you found this interesting, download the full report on the trends VoxSmart has seen during the global pandemic.