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WhatsApp growth declines as competitors Signal, Telegram rise

OAKLAND, California (AP) – Encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram are seeing huge increases in downloads from Apple and Google’s app stores. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, on the other hand, sees its growth fall after a failure that forced the company to clarify a privacy update it had sent to users.

Mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower said Wednesday that Signal saw 17.8 million app downloads on Apple and Google during the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 12. That’s a 61-fold increase from just 285,000 the previous week. Telegram, an already popular messaging app for people worldwide, saw 1

5.7 million downloads between January 5 and January 12, about twice as many as the 7.6 million downloads it saw the previous week.

WhatsApp, meanwhile, saw downloads shrink to 10.6 million, down from 12.7 million the week before.

Experts believe the shift may reflect a slew of conservative social media users looking for alternatives to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the now-closed right-wing site Parler. The mainstream websites suspended President Donald Trump last week and have tightened enforcement of violent incitement and hate speech.

Pearls, meanwhile, was unreliablely launched from the internet after Apple and Google banned it from their app stores for not moderating prompting. Amazon then cut off Parler from its cloud hosting service. Experts fear that these moves could lead to more ideological fragmentation and further hide extremism in the dark corners of the Internet, making it harder to track and counter.

WhatsApp did itself no favors as it recently told users that if they do not accept a new privacy policy by February 8, they will be cut off. The message referred to the data WhatsApp shares with Facebook, which, although not brand new, may have affected some users that way.

Confusion surrounding the message, complicated by Facebook’s history of confidentiality issuesforced WhatsApp to clarify its update to users this week. The company said its update “does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,” adding that the policy changes were necessary to allow users to send messages to businesses on WhatsApp. The announcement “provides additional transparency about how we collect and use data,” the company said.

WhatsApp is still by far the most popular messaging app of the three, and so far there is no evidence of a mass exodus. Sensor Tower estimates that Signal has been installed around 58.6 million times globally since 2014. In the same period, Telegram has seen around 755.2 million installations and WhatsApp as much as 5.6 billion – almost eight times as many as Telegram.

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