WhatsApp on Tuesday tried to reassure its users, worried that messaging would share more data with its parent company, Facebook – the new rules released last week sparked panic and registration records among its competitors Signal and Telegram.
“With all the rumors going around, we want to answer some of the most common questions we’ve received,” WhatsApp writes on its website, under the “security and privacy” section.
“We want to make it clear that the update does not affect the privacy of messages exchanged with your friends and family in any way,” the messenger said.
On Thursday, WhatsApp asked its roughly two billion users to agree to new terms of service, allowing it to share more data with its parent company, Facebook, on pain of losing access to their account from the February 8.
The changes only concern possible conversations with companies, assures WhatsApp, which wanted “to be more transparent about how we collect and use data”.
The Californian group, which derives its immense profits from targeted advertising on Facebook and Instagram, has set out to generate revenue from its messengers, like Messenger, by allowing advertisers to contact their customers, or even sell their products directly there, like this is already the case in India, its largest market with some 400 million users.
WhatsApp has sought to reassure worried users in this South Asian country, by publishing a full-page message in Wednesday’s newspapers which notably states: “Respect for your privacy is encrypted in our DNA.”
WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook in 2014, has built its reputation in particular on data protection. The update caused an uproar on networks, as did iconic Tesla boss Elon Musk, who tweeted, “Use Signal.”
The catch-up operation is coming a little late: Signal and Telegram secure messaging systems have been all the rage since last Thursday.
“In the first week of January, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. Then the numbers continued to grow: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours, ”Russian founder Pavel Durov said on Tuesday on his Telegram channel.
“This is a significant increase from last year,” he continued, explaining that Telegram had already experienced sudden waves of signups during its “seven years of life protection experience. users’ privacy ”. But “this time it’s different,” he said.
“People no longer want to trade their privacy for free services. They no longer want to be held hostage by technological monopolies, ”added the 36-year-old billionaire.
Signal takes off
Signal and Telegram are leading downloads of free apps on Apple Store and Google Play platforms in several countries.
To better win over its new users, Signal even published a tutorial to help them easily import their group conversations from another messaging app.
So much so that the influx of new connections caused some technical problems between Thursday and Friday. “The verification codes are currently delayed (…) because a lot of new people are trying to join Signal now,” said the company.
Launched in 2014, the American application Signal is considered by specialists as one of the most secure messaging applications on the market, thanks in particular to its ability to encrypt “end-to-end” messages or audio and video calls.
Founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, former creators of the very popular Russian social network VKontakte, Telegram claims to make security its priority and generally refuses to collaborate with the authorities, which has led to attempts to block it in some countries. , especially in Russia.