Signal sees surge in demand in the US and India


Signal is an open-source and encrypted messaging app by Signal Technology Foundation which is a non-profit organization.

While a larger number of Indians reacted to WhatsApp’s new privacy rule, the blocking of apps in the United States following the violent attack on the Capitol is days to be the main reason.

Messaging platform Signal announced late Saturday that its service has been restored following a demand-related outage. Signal tweeted: “Signal is back!” and thanked the millions of new users for their patience. In another tweet, it also stated that some users may face errors in their chats but the errors will not affect the security of their message. 

In the United States, Signal has witnessed a surge in demand over the past week. As per the data from analytics specialist Apptopia, Signal was ranked number 10 on its list of most popular free apps on the iOS App Store as of January 16. Signal was also ranked number 1 on Apptopia’s list of free apps on the Google Play store. 

The main reason attributed to the surge in demand is the ban of US President Donald Trump by Facebook and Twitter. This decision drove many of Trump’s supporters to look for other alternatives. As we have reported earlier, Apple and Google removed social networking site Parler from their respective stores due to information that linked the app with a large number of Trump’s supporters to the US Capitol Attack. Parler’s ban urged more users to look for an alternative.

Another important reason cited by various media reports is WhatsApp’s latest revision of its privacy policies which created utter confusion and got people worrying that it is another Facebook data grab. Elon Musk had also tweed: “Use Signal.” This reason, however, is far more valid in India, the largest market for WhatsApp with the number of WhatsApp users estimated to be in excess of 340 million. In comparison, the number of the app’s users in the United States is reported to be less than 68.1 million.

In India, the relatively unknown Signal’s popularity has spurted suddenly ever since WhatsApp forced users to accept the new privacy policy by February 8 if they wished to continue using the app. The policy states that WhatsApp will collect metadata from users’ phones including phone number area codes and IP addresses to estimate users’ geographical location. The most significant point is that the privacy policy confirms that the platform will allow Facebook to access messages that users share with businesses on the app which will let Facebook target and influence users via advertisements. This invasion of privacy has caused many Indian users to make the switch to alternative messaging platforms.

Signal is an open-source and encrypted messaging app by Signal Technology Foundation, a non-profit organization. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and current CEO of Signal Messenger Moxie Marlinspike created the Signal Foundation. Acton left WhatsApp in 2017 and donated $50 million to fund Signal.

WhatsApp clarified that the policy change has nothing to do with messages to friends and families and in some conditions, business messages “different than messaging with your family or friends” can be read by Facebook and could be used for marketing purposes. It has also released a new FAQ page on its website and extended the older policies until May 15 amidst heavy criticism. 

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