A clear Signal that Indians are increasingly shunning WhatsApp?
Publish- January 12, 2021, 04:09 PM
S. Kumar, UNB Delhi Correspondent - UNB Delhi Correspondent
Update- January 23, 2021, 01:03 AM
With WhatsApp literally forcing users to agree to sharing information with its parent company Facebook, more and more people around the world are migrating to other instant messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. India is no exception, where WhatsApp users are increasingly shunning WhatsApp for Signal and Telegram.
Both Signal and Telegram claim to have “state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption” as part of their services and are free to download. Ironically, Signal is headed by Brian Acton, one of the co-founders of WhatsApp. Signal has features like voice calling, video calling, stickers support and the person-to-person chat interface, similar to that of Apple’s iMessage.
Signal witnessed some 7.5 million installs globally through the Apple App and Google Play stores from January 6-10, according to California-based mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower. Similarly, Telegram saw over 5.6 million downloads globally in the same period. In India, a million have downloaded Signal and Telegram in the past week, according to estimates.
"Though WhatsApp is a household name in India, people have started migrating to other more privacy-focused messaging apps, particularly Signal. The figure, as per our estimates, is at least a million. The figure represents those shunning WhatsApp as well as new users," technology expert Rahul Gaba told UNB.
"So, it's privacy over convenience, for Indians, particularly the urban class. Moreover, the trend clearly shows that Signal is going to gain more ground in India," Gaba added.
WhatsApp recently rolled out notifications informing users about an update in its Terms of Service that would pave the way for the app to share data with Facebook. WhatsApp made it clear that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8 this year, in order to continue using the instant messaging service.
WhatsApp's move to collect user information has already prompted electric carmaker Tesla founder Elon Musk to urge social media users globally to switch to Signal. Musk, in fact, recommended Signal on January 7, following which the shares of the app zoomed more than six-fold on the US bourses in a single day.
Soon after the announcement, Signal app had said in a tweet: "We continue to shatter traffic records and add capacity as more and more people come to terms with how much they dislike Facebook's new terms. If you weren't able to create a new group recently, please try again. New servers are ready to serve you."
That day only, Signal tweeted to inform WhatsApp users how to move their groups to the app using a group link. "A lot of people have been asking how to move their group chats from other apps to Signal, and Signal group links are a great way to get started. Drop a group link into your former chat app of choice like you're dropping the mic on the way out."
Musk, also the founder of SpaceX, has now pledged to invest more in Signal. In response to a tweet by the CEO of an e-commerce business on January 11, Musk said that he will invest again in Signal. “Already donated to Signal a year ago. Will donate more," he tweeted.
WhatsApp users in India say they are more than happy to migrate to Signal and Telegram. "Initially, I had a mental block using Signal, having used WhatsApp for the past 2-3 years. Gradually, I am getting over the mental block. I am also encouraging a number of my friends to switch to Signal at the earliest," said Manasi Roy, a software professional based in Delhi.
In fact, Gaba said he became apprehensive of WhatsApp's security features since the surfacing of private exchanges between Bollywood celebrities in the media amid the probe into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. "It clearly indicated that WhatsApp had been sharing data with Indian probe agencies," the expert added.