The downloads of the encrypted messenger app Signal have skyrocketed after competitor WhatsApp announced that it would also share personal user data with the parent company Facebook in the future. However, according to Brian Acton, co-founder of the Signal Foundation, Signal WhatsApp isn’t going to replace WhatsApp anytime soon.
The two apps have different goals, Acton told the online news portal TechCrunch. Acton is the Chairman of the Board of the Signal Foundation. He is also the co-founder of WhatsApp and sold the app to Facebook in 2014 for $ 22 billion.
“I don’t plan to do all the things WhatsApp does,” said Acton – even if he didn’t specifically say which WhatsApp functions he wouldn’t take on. He assumes that people will rely on Signal to speak to family and close friends. At the same time, however, you can still exchange ideas with other people on WhatsApp.
Atcon wants to give users a choice
“My wish is to give people a choice,” Acton said in an interview with TechCrunch, adding that it is not a strict “winner-take-all” scenario. Acton is an open critic of Facebook. In 2018, he asked Facebook users to delete their accounts. He said he left WhatsApp in 2017 “due to differences over the use of customer data and targeted advertising.”
In 2018 he co-founded the Signal Foundation with CEO Moxie Marlinspike, using $ 50 million of his own fortune. Signal, founded in 2014, focused on privacy and promised never to resell users’ data or display in-app advertisements.
For many users, Signal appears to be the answer to online privacy and digital security issues
WhatsApp made it clear that this would only affect users outside the European Union and the UK, stressing that the change “does not affect the privacy of messages with friends or family in any way”. Still, the changes made people start using Signal, Acton told TechCrunch.
“This small event had big consequences,” he said. According to the app analysis company Sensor Tower, Signal was installed around 7.5 million times in the App Store and Google Play Store from January 6th to 10th. This corresponds to an increase of 4,200 percent compared to the previous week.
Telegram, another messenger, was downloaded more than 25 million times in a matter of days after WhatsApp announced it was sharing data. “We are thrilled that there is a discussion about online privacy and digital security and that Signal is an answer to those questions for people,” Acton told TechCrunch.
Signal is motivated to keep improving the app
Acton said the small team of fewer than 50 people is motivated to keep improving the app because Signal is funded through user donations rather than advertising or data sales. “The idea is that we want to earn these donations,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The only way to earn these donations is to develop an innovative and attractive product.”
This text has been translated from English. You can find the original here.