Elon Musk—the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX—sent a two-word tweet to his 42 million Twitter followers last Thursday: “Use Signal.”
Trying to find a way to get out in front, investors bought up shares of Signal Advance Inc., a small Texas-based company that manufactures devices used to diagnose health issues.
“The company’s stock, traded over the counter, spiked to $3.76 on the day of Musk’s tweet from 60 cents the day before,” the New York Post reported. “The shares nearly doubled to $7.19 on Friday and then skyrocketed 438 percent to $38.70 on Monday despite news reports about the apparent ticker confusion.”
The only problem is that Musk was not referring to that Signal, but another company that runs a mobile app allowing users to exchange encrypted messages. That company is owned by the Signal Foundation, a three-year-old nonprofit that does not trade on the stock market.
That Signal told investors that it “has absolutely nothing to do” with Signal Advance’s stock. “Is this what stock analysts mean when they say that the market is giving mixed Signals?” the app said on Twitter. “It’s understandable that people want to invest in Signal’s record growth, but this isn’t us. We’re an independent 501c3 and our only investment is in your privacy.”
The Signal app, though, has been exploding. It has been downloaded more than 30 million times in recent weeks as users search for alternatives to social networks following Twitter kicking President Donald Trump off and Amazon shutting down Parler, a conservative social media site.
Built by a Swedish-based developer, Signal has risen to the top of the Apple App Store and near the top of the Google Play Store, Fox News reported.
“Signal’s advanced privacy-preserving technology is always enabled, so you can focus on sharing the moments that matter with the people who matter to you,” the app describes.
The message is scrambled immediately after being sent. Even Signal cannot read the message; only the recipient can see the unscrambled message. “Because everything in Signal is end-to-end encrypted, the Signal service does not have access to any of this data,” the app says on its website.
Fox News reported that Signal does not store user info and “offers a host of other privacy features, including face-blurring, blank notification pop-ups and ephemeral messages,” Fox wrote. Messages are not encrypted by Signal, but are instead available only on the user’s device.
Signal has found it hard to keep up with the demand.
“Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there,” the app said on Twitter last week.
Parler, a social media platform that many right-leaning voices have been using since its founding in 2018, went dark early Monday morning as Amazon banned the site from its cloud hosting service.