Signal will let you share a username and keep your number private, WhatsApp should copy this

Leonard Sengere Avatar

Over here in Zimbabwe, and in most of the world really, WhatsApp is king and that’s not going to change regardless of what Telegram and Signal evangelists do.

While those two usually innovate with new and cool features first, we take comfort in knowing that WhatsApp, the Big Dub, has absolutely no qualms about copying said innovative features.

So, it takes a little time but eventually we get the cool Telegram/Signal features, further removing any need for us to switch messaging apps.

Today, we talk about Signal rolling out a feature I cannot wait for. I believe this is the best feature to ever come to a messaging app – the use of usernames instead of phone numbers.

Okay, you still need a phone number to sign up for Signal but when you meet new people whilst out networking, you can give them a Signal username and they will be able to get in touch with you that way.

These people will not be able to see your phone number. All they will have is your username. So, it’s kind of like giving someone your Twitter (X) handle and having them direct message you there. They don’t get to know your phone number.

The only people who will be able to see your phone number are those that already had your phone number saved before you gave them the username.

Here’s how Signal put it:

If you don’t want to hand out your phone number to chat with someone on Signal, you can now create a unique username that you can use instead (you will still need a phone number to sign up for Signal). Note that a username is not the profile name that’s displayed in chats, it’s not a permanent handle, and not visible to the people you are chatting with in Signal. A username is simply a way to initiate contact on Signal without sharing your phone number.

This is particularly useful for engaging with specific individuals you want to hear from, such as salespeople you’d like to learn more from or businesses you’d like to initiate a one-time conversation with for a particular purpose. These people do not need to have your number in perpetuity.

Setting it up

Do note that the feature is still in beta and it will be a little while until you see it in your settings.

When it rolls up, you can set your username in the “Profile” settings and then share a QR code or link for others to connect with you.

Users can also find you by typing your username directly in the chat bar. The beauty of it is you’re not tied to that username, you can change it whenever you want.

Which might come in handy if you gave out the username to people you no longer wish to hear from. You won’t need to block people anymore. Although you should know that the discarded username can be claimed by others.

The other neat feature about the username is that it is different from your account name. The username will not be shown on your profile page. So, no one can look up your username and share it.

Signal says,

Put another way, someone will need to know your exact unique username in order to start a chat with you on Signal. And Signal does not provide a searchable directory of usernames.

This is all super in my book. Here is the new default on Signal, “If you use Signal, your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone you chat with by default. People who have your number saved in their phone’s contacts will still see your phone number since they already know it.”

This should be the default in WhatsApp too. I can’t wait for the Big Dub to copy these features.

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  1. Copycat

    Kkkkk “WhatsApp, the Big Dub, has absolutely no qualms about copying said innovative features”.
    U said it once & I heard it thrice kkkk

  2. Anonymous

    So will telegram!
    Teleguard will allow you to sign up, giving you an ID number only..

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