Signal and Telegram see demand surge as new WhatsApp terms stir debate. But, WhatsApp has since reassured users about privacy at the Facebook-owned messaging service. There was “a lot of misinformation” about an update to terms of service regarding an option to use WhatsApp to message businesses, according to Facebook executive Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram.
WhatsApp’s new terms raised criticism, as users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before Feb 8 will be cut off from the messaging app, but Mosseri reaffirmed that the policy update does not affect the privacy of users’ messages with friends or family in any way.
The update regards how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which could use the information for targeting ads, according to the social network.
WhatsApp said in a blog post that they can’t see users’ private messages or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook.
Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp.
“We’re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts. WhatsApp said in the post.
“Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.”
Encrypted messaging app Telegram has seen user ranks soars on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement, said its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov in a statement.
Telegram, founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, who also founded Russia’s social media network VKontakte, is a popular social media platform in a few countries, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news.
Telegram refuses to cooperate with authorities and hand over encryption keys, which resulted in its ban in several countries, including Russia.
Last year, Russia announced that it will lift its ban on the messenger app after more than two years of unsuccessful attempts to block it.
The app had more than 500 million monthly active users in the first weeks of January and 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp boasts more than 2 billion users.
According to Durov, without directly referring to its rival app, people no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services.
Encrypted messaging app Signal has also seen a huge surge in demand, helped by a tweeted recommendation by renowned serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.