– Ben Martens

Message Privacy

These days, companies are using any data they can get their hands on to build profiles of us, market to us, and sell information they’ve derived about us. It’s mostly unavoidable, but it’s nice to exert some control when possible, which is one of the reasons why I use Signal for messaging. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, but I thought I’d share in case you didn’t know about this but would find it helpful.

Text messages are unencrypted. Anybody in between you and the recipient can read them. I’m not saying telephone companies are mining data out of text messages, but I assume they are regardless of what their privacy policies claim. At the very least they have the ability to do it. Text messages are where I’m the quickest to say something that could easily be taken out of context and even if nobody is reading them now, I’d rather not have them sit around for years.

The three main reasons that I now use the Signal messaging app are:

  • The app encrypts your data end to end. Even the Signal employees can’t read your messages.
  • Each message thread can be configured to delete messages after a certain amount of time. I usually set mine to 4 weeks
  • Pictures and videos are sent at much higher quality. No more being annoyed at low quality images when sharing between iPhone and Android users!

Apps are available for most platforms. I use it on my phone, but I also run the Windows app on my desktop. There’s no cost to use it. The group that runs it is a non-profit that exists on funding from investors and donations from users.

The only downside to using it is that the people you chat with need to be on it for it to be useful. Thankfully, that’s the case for most of the people I chat with, but some chats still happen in an SMS app. It’s not that big of a deal to just tap the notification for whichever app received the message and open it up.

So chat however you want, but if you get a little itchy when you think about how companies are potentially using your data, this is a really easy way to decrease your attack surface.