In response to a WhatsApp privacy update, which informed users that it would share data with its parent Facebook, millions of users have shifted to Signal, considered best-in-class for encrypted messaging. The volume of new users caused Signal servers to crash on January 15, and access was limited for two days afterwards.
Signal, formed through a merger of RedPhone and TextSecure, is the flagship app of the Signal Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to open-source privacy technology.
The software which underpins the Signal app has been imported onto WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Google Allo, although end-to-end encryption is not offered by default on these platforms.
It launched the Signal app in 2015 for iOS, Android and desktop, which came with end-to-end encrypted messaging. Signal has since added encrypted video calling, group chats and image, video and gif support, making it a feature-rich service without sacrificing the core benefit of privacy.
Signal has not been anywhere near as popular as Telegram, the other end-to-end encrypted messaging service. Telegram has become a true contender in the messaging world, showing significant growth in countries like Egypt, Germany, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. However, in the past few weeks Signal has outpaced Telegram in global downloads on both the iOS and Android app store.
This could be partly due to celebrities like Edward Snowden and Elon Musk endorsing Signal as the best messaging service for privacy-conscious users. The Black Lives Matter organisers also endorsed the platform during the summer protests.
Want to learn more about the Signal app? We have collected data and statistics on it, read on below to find out more.
|Launch date||29 July 2014|
|HQ||Mountain View, California|
|People||Moxie Marlinspike (CEO), Aruna Harder (COO), Brian Acton (executive chairman of Signal Foundation)|
Signal does not generate any revenue from the application, instead relying on donations to continue development. In 2018, it received $600,000 in donations, but spent $4 million on staffing and infrastructure. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Actor provided Signal with a $105 million zero-interest loan in 2018.
|December 2019||0.5 million|
|July 2020||3.5 million|
|December 2020||20 million|
|January 2021||40 million|
Sources: SimilarWeb, TechCrunch
|December 2019||10 million|
|July 2020||32 million|
|December 2020||105 million|
Sources: SimilarWeb, WSJ
Signal other key facts
- 7.5 million users were added on Signal in the second week of January, 43 times more than the previous week (CNN)
- After Elon Musk tweeted ‘Use Signal’, an unaffiliated Signal Advance saw its shares rise 5,100% in three days (Bloomberg)
- Musk and Edward Snowden’s endorsement of the app was the catalyst for the latest surge in downloads (CNN)
- Signal is one of the only messenger apps that collects no identifiable information on its users (KT Tunstall)
- Signal is regularly used by journalists and investigators to protect sources identity
- Some of Signal’s most popular countries include Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (SimilarWeb)
- Less than 1 percent of Signal users donate to the non-profit