For Once, You Should Listen to Elon Musk

For Once, You Should Listen to Elon Musk
Photo: Britta Pedersen, Getty Images

Elon Musk told us that Tesla would achieve “complete autonomy” in driverless cars by 2018, and we’re still waiting. He once tweeted that he’d secured funding to take Tesla private when he was ultimately just trying to make a weird weed reference. He told us the covid-19 pandemic would be gone by April, then he got the disease in November. But sometimes, sometimes, the guy is right.

On Thursday morning, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted two simple words to live by: “Use Signal.” We’ve recommended Signal as the encrypted messaging app you should be using in the past, but it seems worth reiterating today.

This week, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy to inform users that the app will share their personal data with its parent company, Facebook, and there will no longer be an option to opt-out. Now, iMessage is trending on Twitter as people contemplate where they should move their mobile messaging since Facebook can’t be trusted. A lot of folks seem to like Apple’s platform, but many users are on Android devices are out of luck. The good news is that Signal is on Android, and even if you have an iPhone, it’s worth using as an alternative or in conjunction with iMessage.

We named Signal the best encrypted messaging app back in 2016, but a lot can change in that amount of time. Generally, it’s only gotten better, and other outlets have done more recent rundowns of why Signal is superior to WhatsApp. But I don’t get the feeling that the message has gotten through to the general public, and my suspicion is that poor brand recognition is the biggest reason for the blind spot.

Simply put, Signal is dedicated to offering an ethical and private messaging app with end-to-end encryption. It’s developed by a non-profit that doesn’t run ads, and the software is open-source so independent developers can keep an eye on what’s happening under the hood and respond quickly to needed updates. The developer community, the mission, and its well-respected founder are the biggest reasons to trust Signal, but that pales in comparison with the relationship a user may have built over the years with a company like Apple. (On the other hand, at least you know it can’t be as bad as Facebook.)

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I don’t trust a word that comes out of Elon Musk’s mouth, but that’s not the case for millions of people who see him as a veritable god. The fanboys view events like the fact that Musk became the richest man on the planet as proof that he’s the smartest man in the world, and they remind us of their opinion every time we write about him. So what I’m saying is, maybe you don’t trust us, and maybe you don’t trust Signal, but maybe you do trust Elon Musk, and he can be the Mickey Mouse that the app needs to put it over the top.

Two words: Use Signal.