Monday, March 8

Signal won’t replace WhatsApp says founder Brain Acton


Messaging app Signal has witnessed an unprecedented spike in popularity thanks to WhatsApp’s new policy update. The downloads have skyrocketed since January 6, the day the new WhatsApp Privacy Policy was revealed, and many are predicting a mass migration away from WhatsApp towards more secure options like Signal and Telegram. Users are not pleased with the fact that WhatsApp said that they will be sharing user data with Facebook and Facebook-owned companies.

While WhatsApp has clarified that the new policy applies only to business chats on WhatsApp, users are not convinced.

However, while the likes of Signal and Telegram are making the best of the situation, Signal’s founder, who is also one of WhatsApp’s co-founders, is of the opinion that Signal will not replace WhatsApp.

Brain Acton told TechCrunch in an interview that WhatsApp and Signal have different purposes. Acton is the executive chairman of the Signal Foundation which he co-founded after leaving WhatsApp in 2017. Acton also co-founded WhatsApp and then sold it to Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion.

Acton mentioned at the interview that he had no desire to do “all the things” WhatsApp does, but he did not specify what WhatsApp features he has no plans of replicating.

“My desire is to give people a choice,” Acton said.

He expects people to use Signal for family chats and conversations with close friends while continuing to use WhatsApp for other conversations. “It’s not strictly a winner-take-all scenario,” Acton said.

Acton left WhatsApp in 2017 citing differences around the use of customer data and targeted advertising and then went on to create Signal with CEO Moxie Marlinspike. Since its inception, Signal has focused on privacy and has promised never to sell user data or display in-app ads.

Since January 6, Signal was installed roughly 7.5 million times on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store from January 6 to 10, according to Sensor Tower data and Telegram was downloaded more than 25 million times over the same time period.

“We’re also excited that we are having conversations about online privacy and digital safety and people are turning to Signal as the answer to those questions,” Acton told TechCrunch.