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Signal And Telegram Downloads Surge After WhatsApp Says It Will Share Data With Facebook

Downloads of privacy-focused messaging apps Signal and Telegram got a boost as users looked for alternatives to Facebook-owned WhatsApp over concerns about changes to the service’s privacy policy.

Signal saw approximately 7.5 million installs globally through the Apple App Store and Google Play store between Jan. 6 and Jan. 10, according to Sensor Tower. That’s 43 times the number from the previous week. It is the highest week or even monthly install number for Signal in the app’s history.

Meanwhile, Telegram saw 5.6 million more downloads globally according to Apptopia.

Signal claims to have “state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption” as part of its service, which prevents messages from being read by those who are not the intended recipient.

The surge in downloads of these two apps comes after WhatsApp released an update to its privacy policy on Jan. 4. Since 2016, WhatsApp has shared certain data with Facebook. But users previously had a chance to opt-out of this.

But starting Feb. 8, users will be prompted in the app to accept the updated terms in order to continue using WhatsApp. Users in Europe and the U.K. will see a different message due to data protection rules in those jurisdictions.

WhatsApp messages are encrypted, however, meaning Facebook will not be able to see their contents. But WhatsApp collects a lot of other data that can be shared with its parent company. This data includes account registration information such as your phone number, transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others, including businesses when using the service, and mobile device information.

WhatsApp said this update does not affect the privacy of messages sent to friends and family. It clarified that the update will include “changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

WhatsApp says the data shared with Facebook is used to help improve infrastructure, promote safety and security and refine services by making suggestions or personalizing features and content. This could also include integration between Facebook-branded products and WhatsApp.

Signal reported that verification codes sent to users via text message to start using the app were delayed because of high demand. Signal said it added additional servers in order to handle the influx of new users.

Source: CNBC

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