Ravi Dwivedi

Problems with Signal messenger app

Last updated on: Tuesday 08 February 2022 to embed the Fediverse toot.

Signal is a chatting app popular for respecting user privacy. Here I discuss some problems with the Signal chat app and why I do not use it. It is good that Signal’s app is free/swatantra/mukt software. But only software freedom is not enough for users to have full control over a chat system(software + service).

An account on Fediverse put it nicely and succintly

The main issue is that of centralization. Centralization means that the whole infrastructure is controlled by one entity. Signal Foundation gets to decide what app you can use, what service you can use, whether a cryptocurrency will be integrated with Signal app etc. This is a point of single failure. Signal might be good for now and have commitments towards user privacy, it can change in future at the whim of Signal Foundations. The users of Signal app are also locked into a single service provider. They have to accept whatever terms and conditions Signal service writes. It is like a dictatorship where users have no say over the decisions.

I list here the problems with Signal, which are mostly a consequence of centralization:

Signal is intentionally a centralized service. They were offered a chance to federate with other providers, but chose not to.

If you want convenience that Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram provides, then you can use Quicksy app for Android, which is compatible with any XMPP app such as Conversations app for Android, Snikket app for iOS, Dino for GNU/Linux, Gajim for Windows, Monal IM for Mac OS. Quicksy asks for user’s phone number which give convenience, but the difference is that users have choice not to give their phone number and still be able to contact the Quicksy users.