Recently, WhatsApp revealed an upcoming terms and conditions update that subscribers had to agree to in order to keep using the world’s most widely used cross-platform instant messaging application. Originally, WhatsApp users had until February 8 to accept the new terms, which included different ways user data was going to be shared with the messenger service’s parent company, Facebook.
Unsurprisingly, this news hasn’t gone down too well with millions of WhatsApp’s two billion regular users, who have now sought alternative instant messaging clients with privacy policies that aren’t perceived to be either as invasive or as unprotected as those of WhatsApp. This means rival services like Signal and Telegram have been receiving millions of new subscribers, something which both have been happy to boast about.
Signal’s servers couldn’t cope with the huge influx of new users, with the company sharing how it had 10 million+ installations via Google Play on January 12 and 50 million+ later that same day. Signal also couldn’t help taking a little dig at its currently beleaguered rival, stating: “privacy is our top priority, but adding capacity is a close second right now.” Telegram also revealed it had welcomed 25 million users in just 72 hours, with co-founder Pavel Durov pointedly expressing “people no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services”.
WhatsApp has attempted to deal with users’ concerns by extending the user agreement deadline to May 15 and explaining that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see private messages or hear private calls. The company has posted a graphic (see below) to help explain how private messages are protected, but it’s likely the exodus of users will continue. Although WhatsApp users in the UK and Europe will also have to accept the new terms to keep using the service, the strict European privacy regulations mean that there will be no additional data-sharing going on.