Telegram reports huge surge in new users as WhatsApp backlash grows

Telegram has reported a mass of new users over the past 72 hours, an uptick no doubt spurred by Facebook's recent controversial decision involving WhatsApp and data-sharing. WhatsApp has presented itself as a secure messaging platform, including having introduced encrypted chats. However, last week it was revealed that users will need to agree to share their data with Facebook or move to a different app.

In case you missed the news the first time around, it's quite simple: WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and if you tap the 'agree' button that comes with it, you'll share certain personal information with Facebook. The data collected by WhatsApp include things like profile names and pictures, phone numbers, other phone numbers in the user's phone, and more.

Back in 2016, a couple of years after it acquired the company, Facebook gave WhatsApp users the option to opt-out of having their data made available to Facebook — something the new policy reverses. WhatsApp user data will be shared with the 'Facebook family of companies' under the updated terms.

It was a disappointing, but not at all surprising, twist in the WhatsApp saga and it has come to a predictable end: many users are making the decision to abandon the platform altogether in favor of an alternative, one that doesn't feed the Facebook machine. In a recent tweet, Telegram revealed that it has seen a huge increase in the number of people signing up for its service:

Around 25 million new users have joined Telegram in the past 72 hours, most of them from regions where WhatsApp is popular. Telegram founder Pavel Durov said in a recent channel post that while the company has seen spikes in signups before, 'this is different.'

He goes on to state:

People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services. They no longer want to be held hostage by tech monopolies that seem to think they can get away with anything as long as their apps have a critical mass of users.

With half a billion active users and accelerating growth, Telegram has become the largest refuge for those seeking a communication platform committed to privacy and security. We take this responsibility very seriously. We won't let you down.

Telegram is free to download and use on mobile and desktop; it includes many of the features users enjoyed on WhatsApp, including call support, group messaging, and more. The company explains how it differs from WhatsApp on its website, noting that it can sync messages to several devices simultaneously and more.