“Use Signal” Elon Musk tells his 41 million Twitter followers

By Robert Scammell

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has told his 41 million Twitter followers to use secure messaging app Signal a day after WhatsApp notified users of a privacy policy update that outlined plans to share more user data with parent company Facebook.

The billionaire entrepreneur did not elaborate on his tweet “use Signal”, which is developed by the Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger.

Alongside Telegram, Signal is widely considered a more secure alternative to WhatsApp and is popular among privacy-conscious people.

Adoption of Signal increased during the Black Lives Matters protests as it was used to mobilise and organise demonstrations.

However, its 10 million downloads from the Google Play Store is dwarfed by WhatsApp’s two billion users.

WhatsApp is now requiring users to agree to share new information with Facebook including the following:

  • User phone numbers
  • Transaction data
  • Interactions with other businesses
  • Other people’s phone numbers stored in address books
  • Profile names
  • Profile pictures and
  • Status message including when a user was last online
  • IP address
  • Diagnostic data collected from app logs

Those that do not agree to the new terms will no longer be able to use the WhatsApp app from 8 February.

The move is designed to better integrate WhatsApp with Facebook’s family of apps, which also include Instagram, and pave the way for increased marketing options.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies,” the new privacy policy states.

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customise, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $19bn, with the social media giant assuring users at the time that it would keep their data separate.

On Thursday Musk mocked Facebook on two other occasions. He shared a meme suggesting Facebook’s initial launch as a college site to rate women on campus ultimately led to the occupation of the Capital by pro-Trump supporters.

He also shared a meme attacking Facebook’s track record on privacy.

The posts are not the first time Musk has clashed with Facebook. In 2018 the businessman deleted his personal Facebook page along with those of Tesla and SpaceX in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Read more: WhatsApp introduces “disappearing messages” feature