Switching from WhatsApp to Signal (or something else)? Here's what you need to know

There’s a lot of chatter right now from people who are making a switch from WhatsApp to Signal. The switch seems to be driven in part by the incorrect belief that WhatsApp will be piping user data to its parent company, Facebook.

I’m seeing a lot of people who I wouldn’t consider as being interested in technology or privacy or encryption talking about making the switch.

While a certain proportion of people talking about switching are doing so because they are attention-seeking or want to feel like they are on the cutting edge or leading the way, and they’ll likely have forgotten everything about it in a week and be back on WhatsApp, some will be successful in making the switch.

And there’s no doubt that Signal holds less data about you than WhatsApp does.

Must read: WhatsApp vs. Signal vs. Telegram vs. Facebook: What data do they have about you?

But what’s the best way to make the switch?

The problem I’ve seen in the past is that unless you make a clean break, you end up using two, three, or dozens of apps for communicating. You’re not making a switch; you’re adding another app.

For some people this works. I know some who are active across a broad range of apps, and that works for them. But if you’re switching because of a privacy issue (or non-issue), then switch.

  • Tell your contacts that you are switching to the new service
  • Give your contacts a date from which you’ll no longer be available on the old service
  • On that date, make the switch

Easier said than done, but doable. But in my experience, most people just end up with another service they are using.

And the only thing that does for your privacy is erode it.

But what if things are revered? What if people are asking you to switch to a different service?

That’s tough. Personally, I resist these invitations, because if I didn’t, I’d end up with dozens of apps installed on my smartphone, and that means more notifications, more work, more noise. I’d also be at the mercy of the ebb and flow of other people, and then I’d have to go through some degree of hassle.

All that goes against my ideas of digital minimalism.

My advice — unless ending up communicating with people over many apps appeals to you, stick with what works for you. 

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