SAN FRANCISCO – If your choice of encrypted messaging app is a toss-up between Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, do not waste your time with anything but Signal. This isn’t about which has cuter features, more bells and whistles, or is most convenient to use — this is about pure privacy. If that’s what you’re after, nothing beats Signal.

By now you probably already know what happened. On Jan. 7, in a tweet heard ’round the world, tech mogul Elon Musk continued his feud with Facebook by advocating people drop its WhatsApp messenger and use Signal. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted his call. Around the same time, right-wing social network Parler went dark following the Capitol attacks, while political boycotters fled Facebook and Twitter. It was the perfect storm — the number of new users on Signal and Telegram has surged by tens of millions since.

The jolt also reignited security and privacy scrutiny over messaging apps more widely. Among the three currently dominating download numbers, there are some commonalities. All three are mobile apps available in Play Store and App Store and which support cross-platform messaging, have group chat features, offer multifactor authentication, and can be used to share files and photos. They all provide encryption for texting, voice and video calls.

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