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Backlash against WhatsApp as Telegram gains 25m new users in 72 hours

WhatsApp records 14% decrease in downloads in 1 week


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TELEGRAM messaging app has gained 25 million new users in the last 72 hours, profiting from an ongoing backlash against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.  

Telegram has reached 500 million users already and market sentiments show that the number will grow in the coming days due to WhatsApp’s ill-advised proposal to share users’ data with Facebook.

“In the past 72 hours alone, more than 25 million new users from around the world joined Telegram. These milestones were made possible by users like you who invite friends to Telegram,” Telegram said in a statement sent to users on Wednesday, including this writer.

“If you have contacts that joined on the last few days, you can welcome them using one of Telegram’s unique features, such as an animated sticker or avoided message,” Telegram further said.

WhatsApp, a Telegram competitor, recently unveiled a new privacy policy that asks users to allow Facebook to have their phone numbers and locations before February 8 or lose access to the app.

“It’s important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” WhatsApp chief executive officer Will Cathcart said on Twitter on January 8.

He said about 175 million people messaged a business account each day on WhatsApp, noting that the app was proud of its service and would continue to develop technology and practices to provide private, secure communications for as many people as possible.

“We’re in a competition on privacy with others and that is very good for the world. People should have choices in how they communicate and feel confident that no one else can see their chats. There are people who disagree with this, including some governments,” he further said.

But this does not augur well with many users who feel their personal data may be shared with the public and used against them. Many WhatsApp users on Twitter have said they would opt out of WhatsApp should the company insist on the privacy policy of sharing data with Facebook.

Daniel Bhatt, a WhatsApp user on Twitter, said: “As long as it is connected with Facebook, we will not use it, especially for privacy. So, first, separate WhatsApp from Facebook. We are in fear as our credit card, debit card, bank details and personal details will be on sale in nearby markets.”

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Another WhatsApp user on Twitter named DoRadiology said, “There is no reason why users should trust anything coming from FB on privacy – that includes WhatsApp = Facebook.”

One Twitter user, Juan, with a handle @JFHoyer said, “I just do not want the business to share my personal information with Facebook. I cannot trust them from now on.”

Media reports say that WhatsApp users are moving to Telegram and Signal.

Financial Times reported on Wednesday that WhatsApp’s privacy policy had “sparked privacy concerns and prompted users to turn to rivals such as Signal and Telegram in droves.”

WhatsApp is already taking a hit as it recorded a 14 percent decrease in downloads a week after the announcement of the policy. Its downloads fell from 11.3 million to 9.7 million in one week.

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