WhatsApp Addresses Privacy Policy Update Following Surge in Signal and Telegram Users

WhatsApp is addressing user concerns after rumors about its updated privacy policy prompted people to flock to alternative messaging platforms like Signal.

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whatsapp signal

WhatsApp is addressing user concerns after rumors about its updated privacy policy prompted people to flock to alternative messaging platforms like Signal and Telegraph. 

The company published an FAQ page clarifying the details of the new privacy policy that rolls out on Feb. 8, letting users know that the messenger app does not share private information with its parent company Facebook

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” the website reads.

We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98MP

— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021

According to the company, both WhatsApp and Facebook can’t see users' private messages or listen to their calls. The platform also doesn’t collect information about who people message or call, shared locations, or users’ groups and contacts. 

The post follows concern voiced by everyday users, as well as people like Elon Musk, who promoted the alternative encrypted messaging platform Signal. After Musk tweeted to his 42 million followers, Signal became one of the most downloaded apps in the iOS and Android stores.

Use Signal

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021

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

Another messaging platform called Telegraph has also seen a boost in users. According CNET, the platform gained 25 million new users in the past 72 hours, passing 500 million active users. 

As the Verge reports, the update has nothing to do with profile data or users chats, but “the data sharing WhatsApp users are so keen to avoid has already likely been happening for a vast majority of those who use the messaging platform.” That means for many jumping ship, it's probably already too late thanks to the fact that most who have signed up since 2016 need to manually opt out of data sharing with Facebook. The data shared with Facebook includes users' phone numbers and profile names. 

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart also tried to underscore the app's security in a series of tweets. "With end-to-end encryption, we cannot see your private chats or calls and neither can Facebook,” he tweeted. “We're committed to this technology and committed to defending it globally."

I've been watching a bunch of discussion this week about the privacy policy update we’re in the process of making @WhatsApp and wanted to share some thoughts.

Thread 👇

— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) January 8, 2021

I want to share how committed everyone @WhatsApp is to providing private communication for two billion people around the world. At our core, that’s the ability to message or call loved ones freely protected by end-to-end encryption and that’s not changing.

— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) January 8, 2021

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