Millions ditch WhatsApp in favor of Signal

Privacy storm rocks WhatsApp's boat as Signal wins big in new users

WhatsApp Privacy
(Image credit: Android Police)

The controversy facing WhatsApp is spiraling out-of-control as new stats attest that its user base is fleeing. Other applications haven’t just cottoned on to the furore over WhatsApp’s problems, they’ve well and truly capitalized on its privacy ruckus by making mass gains in audience numbers. 

New figures from app analytics firm, App Annie, testify to the searing reduction in trust that has been leveled at WhatsApp's platform. It speaks to a broader rejection of Facebook's data-mining practices, amid growing concerns that the embattled platform's parent company is overreaching.  

Signal, the chief recipient of WhatsApp’s absconding user set, gained over 7.5 million global members in the second week of January – 43 times more than the previous week’s increase in users.

According to figures shared by the UK parliament’s home affairs committee, Telegram gained 25 million; however, proportionally, Signal is the principal beneficiary, not even appearing in the top 1,000 apps in the country on January 6, soaring to the country's most downloaded app by January 9, 2021.

And while these apps prosper, WhatsApp has tumbled down the rankings. Stats company, App Annie, shows that WhatsApp was the eighth most downloaded app in the UK at the start of the year; by January 12, it had tumbled all the way to the 23rd. If you’re interested in security-centric messaging platforms that stop Facebook from prying into your personal life, then we’ve got a rundown of the best WhatsApp alternatives, that look to secure your data without infringing on your privacy.

App Annie’s director of market insights, Amir Ghodrati, commented on the agility of social apps in The Guardian's report: "Due to the nature of social apps and how the primary functionality involves communicating with others, their growth can often move quite quickly, based on current events." If you love crunching numbers, then you can take a look at the platform itself: App Annie's free trial can be used to perform comparative analysis, tracing how apps compete on rankings. 

Of course, the origin of this story is in the US. Initially, the uproar ensued from WhatsApp's privacy changes that would exclusively affect US users. T3 covered this patent affront to non-EU users' privacy, while reporting on the legal protections enjoyed from EU privacy regulators. Regulators that could oversee a €50 million lawsuit filed against the tech giant, and that include protections for a post-Brexit UK.  

But the resulting backlash has created so much noise that it's rippled out into EU territories that are afforded GDPR protections, whose users have then made an independent decision to actually leave WhatsApp anyway. Be that confusion from miscommunication, or general media havoc, it's forced WhatsApp to delay rolling out the data-sharing policy change for 3 months. 

Any way you slice it, things are not looking good for WhatsApp. It'll be interesting to see if the numbers continue to fall over the coming weeks, and whether WhatsApp can salvage any slither of its privacy pledges in light of this knock to its platform. 

Source: The Guardian

Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson

Luke covers all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets)