Apple vs. Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg currently has two open fronts, the growing distrust of WhatsApp users in the face of new changes in the app’s privacy policies and the battle with Apple over the iOS update that blocks some of Facebook’s services.
This last month WhatsApp users have staged a major exodus to other applications such as Telegram and Signal in search of more privacy. The reason Apple’s alternative, iMessage, has been less talked about but is not because of the lack of privacy, but because it is only available to iPhone users.
iMessage is better than Whatsapp when it comes to security
Zack Doffman, a security expert, claims that iMessage offers a more secure and privacy-friendly service for users, even above Signal, which has been touted as the most private messaging app. This statement clashes with the latest declarations of the creator of Facebook.
Facebook and Apple have been major competitors for years for applications such as WhatsApp and iMessage. The next major iOS update will allow Apple users to block device tracking, one of those personal data that drives part of Zuckerberg’s advertising business model and that his apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) collect.
Zuckerberg: “The moves clearly track their competitive interests.”
Zuckerberg claims that “Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests.” He believes that it is simply a strategy to hurt Facebook’s business, rather than to protect iOS users.
Apart from this opinion, Zuckerberg made some claims that have ended up being disproved by security experts such as Zack Doffman. The Facebook creator assures that “Apple and governments have the ability to access most people’s messages.”
“So when it comes to what matters most, protecting people’s messages, I think that [our] WhatsApp is clearly superior,” he adds
In fact, WhatsApp is the app that downgrades its encryption system when it uploads backups to the cloud. However, iMessage extended its end-to-end encryption to cloud backups. “iMessage is currently the only messaging app that supports syncing messages across multiple devices while still maintaining end-to-end encryption,” says Talal Haj Bakry, a security researcher.
All iPhone owners who use iMessage and back up regularly to iCloud can rest easier than users of other free clouds and apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal. Doffman clarifies that there is a feature that duplicates that backup in iCloud and that would indeed allow Apple to access that content if it has a court order requiring it, but it is enough to disable that double backup in the iMessage settings to achieve a more private state.
He also said: “My advice is to use (cross-platform) Signal for secure messaging, but WhatsApp is safe to use and you can run that in parallel.” He advises changing WhatsApp settings to block cloud backups without end-to-end encryption. “In the unlikely event iMessage was ever extended cross-platform, then given its significant architectural and security advantages, it would easily be my first choice,” he adds.