Messaging app Signal has seen a tremendous boost in downloads as customers flock to the app over privacy concerns with Facebook-owned rival WhatsApp.
WhatsApp users were notified in early January via an in-app notification that they must grant permission to Facebook and its subsidiaries that collect data, such as phone numbers and email addresses, by Feb. 8 or lose access to the app. According to the BBC, users within the United Kingdom or the European Union will not see the data changes but must still accept the terms.
Shortly after the announcement, Signal saw a 4,200% increase in users from the previous week.
“From January 6 to January 10, Signal saw approximately 7.5 million installs globally from across the App Store and Google Play.” Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm, told Business Insider,
Downloads for Telegram, another messaging app, skyrocketed to 9 million users, a 91% increase from the previous week.
WhatsApp downloads fell by 11% over the first week of 2021 with a steady 10.5 million downloads globally, reported Reuters.
On Jan. 11, WhatsApp released a statement in an attempt to clarify privacy concerns.
“We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption,” read the statement.
The company added to their FAQ section, saying, “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.”
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk urged his followers in a tweet to use WhatsApp competitor Signal. However, investors misunderstood and may have caused a tremendous stock surge for Signal Advance, a healthcare company. Signal the app is run by a non-profit and is not publicly traded.
Critics have noted that this is another step in Facebook’s continued integration of WhatsApp into its conglomerate. Others have pointed to possible consumer protection and civil liberties concerns in the future.