WhatsApp, which uses Signal’s encryption technology, will soon let parent company Facebook and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location.
Soon after the Facebook-owned company announced its terms of service, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X and now the world's richest man recommended his followers to download Signal, a cross-platform encrypted messaging service.
Use Signal— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
“Neither we can read your messages or listen to your calls, nor anyone else. Privacy is not an optional mode, it is how Signal works. In all your messages, all your calls, forever,” Signal explains on its official page.
Following Musk's tweet, Signal and Telegram messaging apps saw a sudden increase in demand. Signal was downloaded more than 100,000 times in the app stores of Apple and Google in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there.— Signal (@signalapp) January 7, 2021
Starting from February 8th WhatsApp will be collecting and sharing user data including location data, IP addresses, phone model, OS, battery level, signal strength, browser, mobile network, ISP, language, time zone, and even IMEI.
Some privacy activists questioned the “accept our data grab or get out” move on Twitter, and suggested users to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram.
New installs of WhatsApp fell 11% in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week, but that still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally, Sensor Tower said.