Tech

Data protection concern at Whatsapp: 7.5 million downloads of the Signal app

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg acquired the Whatsapp messenger service in 2014.

REUTERS / Yuri Gripas

Whatsapps competitors got a massive boost after the messaging app announced last week that its users would have to share some personal information with parent company Facebook.

Users have been informed that they must agree by February 8th to allow Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect data from Whatsapp – including phone numbers and locations – otherwise they will lose access to the app. In the meantime, Whatsapp made it clear that this only affects users outside the EU and the UK. According to the company, the change would “not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.”

Following the announcement of WhatsApp, Signal, a competing encrypted messaging service, saw a huge surge in user numbers. This was shown by data from the app analysis company Sensor Tower.

“From January 6th to January 10th, Signal recorded around 7.5 million installations worldwide in the App Store and on Google Play,” a spokesman for Sensor Tower told Insider.

This corresponds to an increase of 4200 percent compared to the previous week.

Signal also received a lot of publicity following the WhatsApp announcement, with public figures like Elon Musk and Edward Snowden endorsing the app. Musk tweeted “use signal”. This had the unexpected side effect of causing shares of an independent company, Signal Advance, to skyrocket 11,700 percent.

The encrypted messaging service Telegram recorded an even greater influx of users. In the same period he was able to gain 9 million new users, which corresponds to an increase of 91 percent compared to the previous week.

India was the largest growth market for both Signal and Telegram. Signal had 2.3 million downloads in India alone – more than 30 percent of all new installations. India also accounted for 1.5 million Telegram installations, or 16 percent of all new installations.

The second largest market for Signal was the US, where users installed it about a million times.

Since last week, WhatsApp has been trying to dispel public concerns about its app’s privacy. “We want to address some rumors and be 100 percent clear that we will continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

“We want to make it clear that the policy update will not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update contains some changes related to the way messages are sent to a company on WhatsApp, which is voluntary. It provides further transparency on how we collect and use data, ”WhatsApp added in an FAQ on its website.

This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.

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