25 million new users join Telegram in 72 hours thanks to new WhatsApp privacy terms

It now has 500 million active users.

Joshua Lee | January 13, 2021, 12:36 PM

People are flocking to alternative messaging apps after WhatsApp announced an update to its privacy terms on January 6, 2021.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov announced on Telegram on January 13 (Singapore time) that 25 million new users joined the platform in the preceding 72 hours.

These new users came from all around the world — 38 per cent from Asia, 27 per cent from Europe, 21 per cent from Latin America and 8 per cent from Middle East and North America.

This is a huge surge, considering that Telegram's rate of new sign ups in 2020 was 1.5 million daily.

"We've had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy. But this time is different," said Durov.

Telegram surpassed 500 million active users in January 2021.

Telegram is now the second most downloaded free app in the Singapore App Store.

What is this WhatsApp privacy update?

Under the new update, users have to agree to let owner Facebook and its subsidiaries collect user data, such as phone number and location, in order to roll out advertising and e-commerce.

The update comes into effect on February 8. Users will be prompted in the app to accept the updated terms in order to continue using WhatsApp

The announcement resulted in a backlash, forcing WhatsApp to clarify that the changes do not affect the privacy of private messages which are encrypted.

It added that the update will include “changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp".

Under these changes, information gleaned from WhatsApp messages sent to businesses can be used for marketing purposes, including advertising on Facebook and personalising shopping activity on Facebook.

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Top images via Telegram and Joshua Lee.