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Signal, Telegram grab 40 lakh new users in India amid row over WhatsApp privacy policy


New Delhi: As WhatsApp started sending notifications to over 400 million users in India last week asking them to either accept its new policy or see their accounts removed from February 8, it came as a blessing in disguise for its rivals as Signal and Telegram saw over 40 lakh new users signing up within a couple of days, and the number is fast growing.

According to data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower, Signal led the pack with over 23 lakh new downloads between January 6 and January 10 while Telegram clocked more than 16 lakh new downloads in the same period.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp`s downloads fell by 35 per cent over the January 6 to January 10 time-period, with 1.3 million new downloads. 

Between January 1 to January 5, WhatsApp had clocked 2 million new downloads. he surge came as users questioned the upcoming WhatsApp Terms of Service and privacy policy, triggering a nationwide debate. The rush to join Signal was so high that it led to overload on its servers.

Big blow to WhatsApp! Several top company executives move their account to Signal – See Gallery 

“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,” Signal had tweeted.

The encrypted messaging service also climbed to the top spot in the free apps category of the App Store in multiple countries, including India.

The official Twitter handle of Signal shared a screenshot, showing it placed above WhatsApp at the top spot in India. “Look what you have done,” it tweeted. Along with India, it became the top downloaded app in Germany, France, Austria, Finland, Hong Kong, and Switzerland as well.

Signal earlier saw a significant surge in new users signing up for its platform after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted to his 41.5 million followers to use Signal and apparently shun WhatsApp.

Facing flak over its new privacy policy and terms of service, WhatsApp had on Tuesday sought to assuage users’ concerns saying its latest policy update does not affect the privacy of messages on the platform. 

In a blogpost, Facebook-owned WhatsApp emphasised that it does not share users’ contact lists or data of groups with Facebook for advertisement purposes. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read messages or hear calls between users on WhatsApp, it added.

Last week, WhatsApp had informed users of an update in its terms of service and privacy policy regarding how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the social media giant’s products.

It also stated that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, 2021, in order to continue using WhatsApp. This kickstarted a spate of conversations as well as memes on the internet over WhatsApp’s alleged sharing of user information with Facebook. Many users have also started shifting to rival platforms like Telegram and Signal.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” WhatsApp said.

It added that WhatsApp accesses only the phone numbers from the address book (after getting user’s permission) to make messaging fast and reliable and that it does not share contact lists with the other Facebook apps.

“We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse. We don’t share this data with Facebook for ads purposes. Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can’t see their content,” it noted.

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(With Agency Inputs)





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