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WhatsApp's new privacy policy "very confusing", says Signal co-founder Brian Acton

BusinessToday.In     January 14, 2021

California-based messaging app Signal's co-founder Brian Acton, who also co-founded WhatsApp, has said that he finds the latter's new privacy policy "very confusing" and "hard to follow." Acton said the update renders the possibility of users' data being shared back to Facebook, which owns the platform, to increase the company's capability to target customers.

Signal is being pitched against WhatsApp as one of the top alternatives to the latter following uproar over its privacy policy update that has sparked fears over user data and privacy. Several users on the internet have already declared their intent to delete WhatsApp and switch to Signal.

"Having read the privacy policy, I found it to be very confusing and hard to follow. Facebook is trying to thread a very particular needle around how they use your data to serve you ads.  With the updates, you still have the premise of data being shared back to Facebook so that they can increase their capability to target customers," Acton told the Economic Times.

He co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum and sold it to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.

Acton's Signal app became the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store as well as Google Play Store globally this week after Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its privacy terms. According to a report by SensorTower, Signal saw 2.3 million installs in India-more than 30 per cent of its total new installs.

On this trend, Acton expressed his excitement and said his company is committed to living up to the high standards that people in India have come to expect.

"As a company policy, we do not share download numbers publicly. However, we've seen record-setting growth this past week. The signal is topping the charts on the iOS App Store in over 70 countries including India and the Android App Store in over 35 countries," Acton told the daily.

He added that the record growth Signal has witnessed is because of India as it was leading the way. Acton claimed that Signal's key policies are not to keep people's data and to never serve any ads.

"We don't want to know anything. Not who you talk to, or how many messages you send, not even what your profile picture looks like. Your data is for you alone," Acton added.

He further claimed that Signal cannot read users' messages or listen to calls and no one else can either. The app does not have access to their contacts, social graph, group membership, profile avatar, location data, etc, Acton asserted.

"If an exchange is intercepted, by a hacker or a government agency, the interceptor sees a nonsensical snarl of letters and numbers. Signal keeps no call logs or data backups. We have made sure the app is very easy to operate and one can also set your messages to disappear over time, or photos to disappear after a single viewing," the internet entrepreneur said.

Also read: Signal App vs WhatsApp: Key features; all you need to know

Also read: Signal climbs to top of free apps category on App Store after WhatsApp row

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