Signal's latest ad channels Taraji P. Henson to highlight privacy features

How to move from WhatsApp to Signal
How to move from WhatsApp to Signal (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Signal is taking advantage on the current spotlight signed on WhatsApp to emphasiaze its privacy focus.
  • The company released a new ad on social media starring Empire's Taraji P. Henson.
  • Signal has seen an increase in users over the past few weeks, and has even launched new features to make adopting the app easier for WhatsApp deserters.

Signal wants to attract new customers as it launches an ad featuring Empire star, Taraji P. Henson. The video highlihs several privacy issues inherent in current technollgy, including always listening microphones, data collection, and so on. "Big tech collects every click and conversation you have and sells it out," Henson says."That's some bulls--t." The ad concludes, exhorting users to "protect [their] s--t" and download Signal.

While Henson's example of the ever-listening Facebook app may be a debunked urban legend (in some cases), Signal is touching on a sentiment that is shared by a lot of people.

Signal has seen a large growth in users since WhatsApp's new privacy policy exported the company to backlash from concerned customers. While WhatsApp technically had done nothing new wrong, customers were now concerned over how many eyes could see their data.

Compounding this was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's very public feud with Apple over its new privacy requirements, and the company and all its associated messaging brands got tarred with the same broad brush as a result.

Signal isn't relying on advertising or bad blood alone to attract customers to its messaging service, the company has updated its Android and iOS apps this week to include features offered by messaging apps that make the act of texting friends a lot more pleasant. There's now support for customization with custom wallpapers. It has also added WhatsApp-like status updates, animated stickers, group video calls, and more.

But Signal is not the only privacy friendly messaging app. It's facing heavy competition from Telegram.The rival app has seen its userbase rise to over 500 million over the past month, and offers everything Signal does and more. It also rolled out a new tool aimed at making switching directly from WhatsApp a lot more convenient. As WhatsApp still has the userbase advantage though, this debate remains largely academic. But as MySpace and BBM demonstrate, it's no guarantee of future security.

Michael Allison