Messaging app Telegram added 25 million new users just in the last 72 hours, announced founder Pavel Durov in a post. The app has now surpassed 500 million monthly active users, quickly gaining on rival WhatsApp, which has over 2 billion users. People around the world have been flocking to WhatsApp alternatives such as Telegram and Signal since the Facebook-owned app announced changes to its privacy and data sharing policy.
The surge in Telegram users is very notable given that a year ago, the app only used to see 1.5 million new users per day. Fully capitalising on discontent, suspicion and anger against WhatsApp’s recent policy change, Durov declared: “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.”
Telegram surpassed 500 million active users. 25 million new users joined in the last 72 hours: 38% came from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America and 8% from MENA. https://t.co/1LptHZb9PQ
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) January 12, 2021
The public backlash against WhatsApp began last week when it announced that it would begin sharing user data with parent company Facebook. Facing an exodus of users, WhatsApp has since scrambled to assuage privacy concerns, clarifying that the data sharing only happens when you message a business on its platform.
Durov ended his post with what seems to be a thinly veiled parting shot at WhatsApp. Quoting his remarks in 2018, he reiterated, “Unlike other popular apps, Telegram doesn’t have shareholders or advertisers to report to. We don’t do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven’t disclosed a single byte of our users’ private data to third parties.”
Meanwhile, private messaging app Signal is another beneficiary of the WhatsApp data-sharing controversy. Business Insider, citing a Sensor Tower representative, reported that Signal downloads saw a 4,200% week-on-week increase from 6 January to 10 January.