Encrypted-messaging apps, Signal and Telegram are reporting massive surges in new users following
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
The Signal app was downloaded almost 1.3 million times on Monday, according to data collected from a tracking firm. The encrypted-messaging app had been downloaded an average of 50,000 times a day prior to Musk’s tweet.
A Signal spokesperson said the report undercounted the number of downloads the service is experiencing.
“Right now I can say that all those app-analytics firms severely under report numbers from Signal because we don’t have any trackers or analytics like other apps,” the spokesman said. He said the company doesn’t share its numbers publicly.
Signal also attributed a temporary Friday outage to the user surge.
“While we have been working hard all week to keep up with all the new people switching over to Signal, today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. We are working hard to resolve the issue.”
Many users are skeptical of being tracked, after Facebook-owned WhatsApp changed its policies on Jan. 4.
Signal is the most downloaded iOS app in 70 countries and the most downloaded Android app in more than 50 countries, the spokesman said, citing India, West Africa and Brazil as top markets.
Following mounting privacy concerns, WhatsApp announced Friday that it would delay the rollout of its new policy by three months.
“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms,” the company said in a blog post. “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”
Telegram’s download numbers are likewise booming. In December, the company was nearing 500 million users, a mark it passed on Tuesday, according to a statement from co-founder Pavel Durov.
“We’ve had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy,” Durov said. “But this time is different.”
Durov, the company’s primary financial backer, had earlier said Telegram “needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going” and plans to launch its own Ad Platform to generate revenue. It’ll also sell new premium features to users in 2021.The company had previously raised $1.7 billion to develop blockchain tokens, though that attempt fizzled.