WhatsApp has long been popular among users due to the end-to-end encryption which keeps its user’s messages private.
Under the changes, WhatsApp will share certain data with Facebook as a condition of use which can then potentially be used for targeted advertising across Facebook’s ecosystem.
The news brought a significant backlash, with many accusing WhatsApp of failing to respect user privacy – something which has previously made the company so popular.
WhatsApp forced to release a statement clarifying the changes and reminding users end-to-end encryption will still apply.
We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98MP
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
As the changes require users to opt-in, WhatsApp users are essentially being given the choice to agree to share more of their data with Facebook or discontinue using the app.
And according to new data, many are choosing the latter.
Messaging alternative Signal has reportedly seen 7.5 million new downloads in the last week, an increase of 4,200 per cent, according to Business Insider.
The free app, which lets users send and receive messages securely using end-to-end encryption, has recently been endorsed by Elon Musk, who simply tweeted “Use Signal” in response to the news of WhatsApp’s policy changes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
Similarly, cloud-based messaging service Telegram received 2.2 million downloads following the WhatsApp update.
Company co-founder Pável Dúrov responded to the newfound popularity.
“I hear that Facebook has an entire department dedicated to finding out why Telegram is so popular,” Dúrov said in a statement on his official Telegram channel.
“Imagine dozens of employees working on it full time. I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect its users.”
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