Millions of Users Flee WhatsApp to Join Telegram over New Policies

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WhatsApp and Telegram

Instant messaging service provider Telegram says it has recorded a surge in the number of new users to its platform, coming less than a week after WhatsApp announced changes to its policies.

According to Pavel Durov, Telegram’s Russian founder, the platform now has more than 500 million monthly users and has received 25 million new users in the last 72 hours.

“In the first week of January, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. After that it kept growing: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone,” said Mr Durov, adding that new users came from across the globe.

Thirty eight per cent came from Asia, 27 per cent from Europe, 21 per cent from Latin America and 8 per cent from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa).

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In an indirect swipe at Facebook-owned WhatsApp over its recent update of privacy policy, Mr Durov attributed the increase in users to subscribers’ need for more privacy.

“People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services. They no longer want to be held hostage by tech monopolies that seem to think they can get away with anything as long as their apps have a critical mass of users,” he said.

As a rival platform for WhatsApp, which has been facing backlash from users over its updated policy due to take effect on February 8, Telegram seems determined to capitalize on this disgruntlement.

“With half a billion active users and accelerating growth, Telegram has become the largest refuge for those seeking a communication platform committed to privacy and security. We take this responsibility very seriously. We won’t let you down,” he added.

WhatsApp’s privacy update has also seen a surge in users to messaging app Signal, with the company reporting delays in phone number verifications of new accounts across multiple cell providers.

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“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),” said Signal in a tweet on Thursday.

In response, WhatsApp issued a clarification saying that the policy update does not affect the privacy of messages.

“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,” said WhatsApp on its blog.

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