After recent changes to WhatsApp’s T & Cs, you might be looking for a new private messaging app. If your heart is wavering between Signal and Telegram, here’s our full comparison.
The changes to WhatsApp’s T & Cs have motivated you to migrate from private messaging and to orient yourself instead towards a platform that respects your privacy and your personal data, but you hesitate between Signal and Telegram? Here is a complete comparison between the two applications to help you decide.
Why quit WhatsApp and Messenger?
Those who are quick to cast shame on GAFAM are screaming at the start of 2021 against WhatsApp and its change of T & Cs allowing users’ personal data to be shared with other WhatsApp services. Facebook. It turns out that it only concerns very little information, but as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and it must be admitted that Mark Zuckerberg’s company does not necessarily put the forms by imposing these conditions of use under penalty of no longer accessing the service.
And this is the main point that we can criticize WhatsApp and the Facebook group in general. This is a private business with a commercial purpose and while the company is focusing its attention on Facebook and Instagram to rake in billions, WhatsApp has cost $ 19 billion and it would be a shame to sit on a business base. so fat users without enjoying it in one way or another.
This is why two names are often mentioned when looking for an alternative to WhatsApp: Telegram and Signal.
Who are Signal and Telegram?
Signal sits totally at the opposite end of Facebook’s ideological spectrum. It is a fully open source US application (GNU GPL3), distributed as free software and developed by a company funded primarily by the Signal Foundation, non-profit and donations from its users. It is particularly known because of the celebrities who have already taken a stand for the application. They include whistleblower Edward Snowden or the richest man in the world, Elon Musk.
For its part, Telegram is a Russian application that is also free and open source (at least for the “client” part) developed by the Durov brothers (known in particular for having launched VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook) and funded for the hour only on own funds. Pavel Durov, however, announced a new business model to come in 2021 based on the integration of advertising in large public groups, as well as the sale of specific features.
There are several points between these two applications and your choice will certainly turn to the preferred platform of your contacts, but if you want to convince them to take the plunge, here are some arguments that may be able to help you.
Platforms compatible with Signal and Telegram
Beyond your contact list, one of the main elements that can justify your choice will be the compatibility of the service with your favorite platform. Messaging that you can’t use whenever you want is of little value. So here is where you can use Signal and Telegram:
Signal is available on Android, iOS, iPadOS, Windows, macOS (Apple Silicon via Rosetta 2 as of this writing) and Linux (Debian). For hackers, a Chrome version (web extension / ChromeOS) is present on the official GitHub, but it is no longer available on the Chrome Web Store, its quality being considered insufficient.
Telegram is available on Android, iOS, iPadOS, Windows, macOS (optimized by Apple Silicon) and Linux (32 or 64 bit). A web version is also available from any browser.
On this point, Telegram is therefore slightly more interesting since it is available on the fly from any browser without having to download a dedicated application. It also makes it easier to retrieve conversations across your various devices, but we’ll get to that later. Anyway, the two applications remain accessible from more or less any platform.
How secure for your personal data?
But if you are leaving WhatsApp or Messenger and heading to Signal or Telegram, maybe your concern is privacy and your personal data. On this point, the two messaging services are not quite similar.
Already, Signal is fully open source. It is therefore possible to audit not only the code of the client part (the application) and its APIs, as on Telegram, but also of its server. For its part, Telegram keeps a certain opacity about what is happening on the server side and we can therefore only rely on the promises of its creators.
Encryption is also handled differently for the two services. For Signal, everything is end-to-end encrypted: only you and the person you’re talking to are able to read your conversation. On the Telegram side, messages are encrypted between the client and the server, and on the server itself, but the conversations are technically accessible from the cloud. However, it is possible to open a ” secret exchangeWith a contact (even if they are well hidden). This is end-to-end encrypted and Telegram does not keep any record of the conversation. It also allows you to program the self-destruction of messages sent so that there is not even a trace left on the two devices used for the discussion.
To avoid abusive requests for access to data stored in the cloud, Telegram takes the trouble to encrypt all data and scatter it, along with its decryption key, on servers located in different countries. So the only way an entity or government will force Telegram to disclose personal data is through multiple court orders from different jurisdictions, ensuring that the request is serious and universal. To date, no data has been revealed.
Signal goes even further by not keeping any metadata on exchanges. The only information known to the server is the day of the last connection of a user to the server (the precise time is not kept). In addition, during their transfer from one user to another in the context of discussions, the metadata is encrypted, preventing an intermediary (such as your ISP for example) from having access to it.
On this point, Signal therefore wins hands down, Telegram being judged by some as less secure than WhatsApp since the messages are readable from the server. In reality, however, everything is encrypted using very complex algorithms (based on AES-256, SHA-256 and Diffie – Hellman key exchange, among others) and it is possible on Telegram to make its discussions more secure thanks to secret exchanges if necessary.
What are the features of Signal and Telegram?
The last battle that will motivate the choice of users will be played in the field of functionalities. Use private messaging to lose all additions earned over SMS. And on this point, Telegram is clearly taking the lead.
Advantage of its disadvantage: Telegram keeps your messages in the cloud . It’s less secure, but it allows you to enjoy all your conversations on all your devices. As we have seen before, the two applications are available on multiple platforms and it is very easy to switch from one to the other on Telegram.
For Signal, it’s a bit more complicated. As is the case with WhatsApp, messaging is necessarily linked to the phone and the second platform (PC, tablet, etc.) will connect to it, requiring you to scan a QR Code and keep the device nearby. It’s a bit more restrictive.
More restrictive: you will have to remember to regularly make a manual backup of your conversations using a dedicated menu in the settings and transfer this file to the cloud yourself to ensure its recovery (and even more, if you do not have not lost the file or your security key in the meantime). If you absolutely want to keep a history of your conversations, it is risky.
Just like on WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram allow the exchange of text messages, files, images, animated GIFs or stickers. Lovers of voicemail messages will obviously not be disappointed either. You can also easily share a contact card or your location.
Telegram, however, goes a step further with a real sticker search engine (you have to go through a third-party source on Signal to install them) and real-time location sharing, practical for meeting up with friends without having to stay at the same location.
Today, messaging is only used to chat face to face and we like to create groups with all his friends, family or work colleagues. On Signal you can thus create groups of up to 1000 people by mentioning the people in the discussion or by means of a link or a QR Code, thus making it possible to create a public discussion group.
Telegram goes even further with groups of up to 200 members and supergroups of up to… 100,000 members. For the latter, the history is then unified and deleting a message deletes it for everyone. It is also possible to create separate read-only rooms for information dissemination and related chat rooms.
Audio and video
Signal and Telegram allow for audio calls, which are end-to-end encrypted in both cases, as well as video calls. During calls, it is possible to minimize the window to continue doing other things, and in particular to access conversations to re-read your message history if necessary.
Signal nevertheless presents a slight advance with the possibility of making group videoconferences (in voice or video) while Telegram is content for the moment with vocal groups. Video and screen sharing are nevertheless planned “in the next weeks ».
Present on PC, Telegram makes it possible to replace software like Discord for gamers with a “push to talk” functionality which allows orderly group discussions.
In addition to that, Signal offers the option to manage SMS to become your universal chat app. Telegram for its part takes a closer look at aesthetics and practicality within the app itself with, for example, the creation of folders to store your various discussions. You can thus create discussions with your coworkers in a dedicated folder that you will not open on weekends.
Which application to choose between Signal and Telegram?
After reading this file, you should already have a good overview of which app is best for you. We could nevertheless summarize this by recalling that Signal is the most secure application, by far. Telegram for its part has made choices that are much less secure, but which allow it to be much more versatile. Your chats remain encrypted and protected, but storing them in the cloud makes them much easier to access from all your devices.
In addition, the application shows itself much moreuser friendlyon a daily basis and is closer in idea to the WhatsApp experience.
Now that you have made your choice, all you have to do is download the application that suits you the most: