The result has been a mass exodus that, if it persists, could weaken the power of Facebook and the other big tech companies. Telegram said, Tuesday, that it added more than 25 million users in the past three days, to reach 500 million. On Monday alone, Signal added about 1.3 million users, after averaging just 50,000 downloads a day last year, according to estimates by Apptopia, an app data consulting firm.
“We’ve actually seen increases in downloads before,” Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said Tuesday via a message on the app. “But this time it was different.”
WhatsApp spokesperson, Carl Woog, said that users’ privacy settings had not changed and that most of the rumors about the data being shared were unfounded.
“What doesn’t change is that private messages from friends and family, including group chats, will be protected by end-to-end encryption, so we can’t see them,” he said.
The advent of Telegram and Signal could spark controversy over encryption, which helps protect people’s digital communications privacy, but could hinder criminal investigations from authorities because conversations are hidden.
Any move toward implementations by far-right groups in particular has alarmed the US authorities, some of which are trying to continue planning what might turn into violent demonstrations during or before the inauguration of the president. Joe Biden was elected next week.
“The proliferation of crypto platforms, where law enforcement authorities cannot even control speech, is allowing groups with malicious intent to plan behind the scenes,” said Louis Griffer, president of the Federation of State Criminal Investigation Agencies.