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Millions quit WhatsApp after changes to terms of service

Thought to be prompted by privacy concerns, millions of users appear to have ditched WhatsApp in favour of Signal and Telegram.

WhatsApp has long been one of the most popular instant messaging apps worldwide, but thanks to a scare-inducing alteration to the terms of service, that could all suddenly change.

On January 4, it was announced that the privacy policy would change, principally in terms of strengthening its ties with parent company Facebook. While these changes mostly affected business accounts, it was enough to make people panic at the thought that somehow their end-to-end encrypted conversations could be shared through Facebook, which doesn’t exactly have the best reputation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Even though WhatsApp released a second statement attempting to clarify the issue, clearly stating “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way”, it seems that the damage may already have been done. Having reportedly started the moment as the eighth most popular app in the UK, WhatsApp has now tumbled to number 23 on the list, while globally during the first three weeks of this year, Telegram has gained 25 million followers and Signal has gained 7.5 million.

With WhatsApp being such a widely used app, it’s hard to imagine it being replaced by an alternative in the immediate future, but the seeds of change may have been sown for the longer term. It’s doubtless that the company will have to more sensitive in how it explains future privacy changes to its users (some of whom were ironically thrown into a panic by viral messages spread on the very same platform).

Has this recent panic changed your mind about WhatsApp, and caused you to seek alternative messaging services? Let us know in the poll below.

 

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