WhatsApp defers its privacy policy until May 15, Signal downloads soar 9483%

The messaging service saw its installs fall by 35% from January 6-10 to 1.3 million during January 6-10 from 5.2 million a week before. Instant messaging firm Signal's downloads spiked by 9483%.

Published: 16th January 2021 01:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2021 06:24 PM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes. (File photo)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: After a massive controversy over its new privacy policy, the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp said on Saturday it has deferred the implementation of new measures until May 15 and will offer users a chance to review its new policy. 

WhatsApp said user accounts will not be suspended after February 8, the deadline announced by the instant messaging firm earlier for implementation of the new privacy policy. Reiterating its commitment to keep personal chats, call logs and user location secure, WhatsApp said that a lot of misinformation has spread since the announcement, which it termed a cause of concern.

"We're now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We'll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15," the company said in a statement.

WhatsApp's recent announcement of sharing data related to the communications with business accounts with its parent firm, Facebook, has evoked criticism globally and also triggered a massive digital migration to apps like Signal and Telegram that have promised privacy-focused services.

The messaging service saw its installs fall by 35% from January 6-10 to 1.3 million during January 6-10 from 5.2 million a week before. Instant messaging firm Signal's downloads spiked by 9483% to reach 2.3 million from just 24,000 a week before. Telegram's downloads increased by 15% at 1.5 million from 1.3 million on a week-to-week basis. Signal moved ahead of WhatsApp and Telegram to top the charts on Google and Apple playstores in India and the US -- the two largest markets for the apps.

Signal also faced an outage in India, which experts said was because of the inability to handle such a huge number of users within a short period of time. The platform run by a not-for-profit organization in which the world's richest man, Elon Musk has also donated, got a thumbs up from Musk and Edward Snowden. 

In India, tech CEOs including Paytm'ss boss, Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Phone Pe CEO, have backed the Signal app and spoken out against Big tech's monopoly.

"Signal is experiencing technical difficulties. We are working hard to restore service as quickly as possible. We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters. We appreciate your patience. We are making progress towards getting the service back online. Privacy is our top priority, but adding capacity is a close second right now. We are still working as quickly as possible to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels," the messaging service said.


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