Signal and Telegram messaging apps are seeing a sudden increase in demand after larger rival WhatsApp’s updated terms of service raised eyebrows on social media. WhatsApp, which uses Signal’s encryption technology, laid out fresh terms on Wednesday, asking users to agree to let owner Facebook and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location. Some privacy activists questioned the “accept our data grab or get out” move on Twitter, and suggested users to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram.
Since then, more than 100 000 users have installed Signal across Apple’s app store and Google’s play store in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower. New installs of WhatsApp fell 11% in the first seven days of 2021 compared to the prior week, but that still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally, Sensor Tower said.
Elon Musk endorses Signal
There are so many people that are joining Signal that there’s now a wait. The end-to-end encrypted messaging app endorsed by the likes of Edward Snowden got a major (ahem) signal boost Thursday when Elon Musk tweeted his support. Signal is an open-source messaging app that is privacy focused and is widely used by journalists, security experts, and academics across the globe. The Signal protocol also underpins WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 7, 2021
Soon after, Signal announced that the tidal wave of new downloads was having an unintended effect. When registering new Signal accounts, users must provide phone numbers. Verification codes are then sent to those phone numbers, thus confirming the numbers are indeed controlled by the people claiming to control them. It is this process that is apparently backed up due to a spike in registration attempts.
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). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there.
— Signal (@signalapp) January 7, 2021
Telegram takes a Jab at Facebook and Whatsapp
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) January 8, 2021