Security researchers have discovered that the 36-year-old multibillionaire uses Signal – a messaging app recommended by whistleblower Edward Snowden and others for its no-nonsense stance on its users’ privacy.
The only reason we know Zuckerberg, who reportedly spent $30m (£18.8m) buying the four houses that neighbour his own home in California for extra privacy, has a profile on Signal is because his details were among the leaked data of 533 million Facebook users discovered over the Easter bank holiday weekend. Zuckerberg’s location, marriage details, birth date, Facebook user ID, and phone number were stripped from his private Facebook profile and shared by hackers.
Cloud security specialist Dave Walker used the phone number that leaked from Zuckerberg’s account to check whether an account on Signal was registered in his name.
Walker tweeted his discovery, writing: “In another turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg also respects his own privacy, by using a chat app that has end-to-end encryption and isn’t owned by @facebook. This is the number associated with his account from the recent Facebook leak.”
For those who don’t know, Signal is a pretty popular WhatsApp alternative. That’s because it has a pretty tough stance on privacy – not only is it end-to-end encrypted, like WhatsApp, but its code is open-source.
That means anyone is able to scrutinise its practices and make suggestions. Unlike WhatsApp, where users have to trust that Facebook is true to its word (and hasn’t made any honest mistakes), privacy experts are able to check Signal’s code for themselves, suggest improvements, and then check back to see whether the company has made the promised tweaks.
As a result, the open-source nature of Signal means it’s one of the most trusted, secure messaging apps on the planet. Whistleblower Edward Snowden has previously revealed that he uses the app, as well as Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.
But this ironclad security doesn’t mean Signal users are losing out on features. Opening the app for the first time, you’ll find a very similar selection of features to WhatsApp, including group chats, voice messages and video calls with up to eight participants, GIFs, stickers, and more. Best of all, Signal is completely free to use. The app is run by an independent nonprofit that relies on donations, so you can support Signal with as much as you can afford.
And best of all? Unlike WhatsApp, Signal has an official iPad app!
Maybe that’s why Zuckerberg has decided to use Signal for his private communication with friends and family.