The Signal Messenger app download page in front of the Facebook Inc. WhatsApp app logo. Credit – Brent Lewin â Bloomberg / Getty Images
Messaging apps like Signal and Telegram have sparked renewed interest after a Facebook Inc. outage left Whatsapp users embarrassed. At least 2.7 billion Social media users around the world were plunged into digital obscurity on Monday as Faceboo’s suite of apps and services, including Whatsapp and Instagram, went down. For six hours at around 11:40 a.m. EDT, millions of communication channels were unusable.
The company attributed the failure to a “faulty configuration change” and promised that there was “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth fell by $ 6 billion following the failure, apologized for disruption when apps came back online.
According to Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app favored by data privacy activists and organizers, “millionsâFlocked to its app after the outage. “Registrations are on the rise on Signal (welcome to all!)”, The company tweeted Monday. Signal declined to disclose more specific user numbers.
Other alternative messaging apps, such as Telegram and Discord, saw a surge in signups. Telegram is currently in fifth place in the ranking of the best free applications of the US Apple App Store.
The scale of Monday’s Facebook outage highlighted the company’s monopoly on social media around the world. Whatsapp has more than 2 billion users in 180 countries, and is the market leader in all 25 countries at the World level. It is also heavily counted by many people in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, India and Argentina to communicate.
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Signal uses end-to-end encryption, similar to Whatsapp and iMessage. In fact, Whatsapp integrated Signal’s protocol in its encryption software in 2016. What sets Signal apart is the additional level of security it offers: message metadata is encrypted, thus blocking hackers and law enforcement. Additionally, Signal is owned and operated by a non-profit foundation, rather than a multinational corporation. Whatsapp, on the other hand, stores user data for sharing with Facebook, even though the messages themselves are protected.
NSA whistleblower and privacy activist Edward Snowden tweeted his support for Signal on Monday. âThe Facebook-owned Whatsapp crash is a reminder that you and your friends should probably be using a more private, non-profit alternative like @Signalapp anyway (or another open source app of your choice),â he said. he writes in a tweet.
This is not the first time that users have abandoned platforms operated by Facebook for Signal and other platforms in recent months due to data protection and privacy concerns. In January, a privacy update on Whatsapp asked users to consent to companies sharing their data with Facebook for marketing purposes. A Signal spokesperson said the move caused a “super, super exodus” of platform users to Signal. Whatsapp finished dilatory the proposed update, February 8 to May 15, due to “confusion” and “misinformation” about “our principles and the facts”.
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In a maintenance with TIME last year, Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton, who defected from Signal, said, “Whenever there is some form of unrest or a controversial election, there seems to be an opportunity. for us to build our audience. “