Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesperson for Think Tank cryptocurrency, often uses the encrypted messaging app Signal to chat with colleagues and colleagues who care about privacy. So he surprised Monday when the app alerted him to two new users: Mom and Dad.
“Signal is still shining devastating,” said 32-year-old Agrawal. “Now my parents are with it.”
In Telegram, another encrypted messaging app, Gavin McInnes, founder of the far right Proud Boys group, recently announced his return. “Man, I haven̵7;t been posting here in a while,” he wrote on. Sunday “I will post regularly”
And on Twitter, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk highlighted the two-word endorsement last week, “Use Signal.”
Over the past week, tens of millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram, making them two of the hottest apps in the world. Signal allows messages to be sent with “end-to-end encryption,” meaning no one else can use them. Besides the sender and recipient can read the content, Telegram has an encrypted messaging option. But it is mostly popular for group chat rooms where people can talk about any subject.
Their sudden increase in popularity was fueled by a series of events last week that fueled growing anxiety over big technology companies and their communication apps such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp. Tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have deleted thousands of far-right accounts, including President Trump, following a raid on government agencies.Amazon, Apple and Google also cut support for Parler, the social network it received. The popularity of Mr. Trump’s fans, in response to conservatives, sought a new app that could communicate.
At the same time, privacy concerns are growing on WhatsApp, which last week warned users in a pop-up notification that they shared some of their data with the parent company. This is due to a viral chain message claiming that Facebook can read WhatsApp messages.
The result is a massive migration that, if taken for a long time, could weaken the power of Facebook and other big tech companies on Tuesday.Telegram said it had added more than 25 million users in the three days before. The page brought in more than 500 million users.Signal added nearly 1.3 million users on Monday alone, after only 50,000 average downloads per day last year, according to estimates by app data firm Apptopia.
“We had more downloads previously,” Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov said in an app message Tuesday, “but this time was different.”
WhatsApp spokesman Carl Woog said users’ privacy settings had not changed and that rumors about the shared information were largely unfounded.
“What remains unchanged is that private messages to friends and family as well as group chats are protected by end-to-end encryption so we cannot see,” he said.
The rise of Telegram and Signal could spark a controversy over encryption, helping protect the privacy of people’s digital communications. But it can hinder officers from investigating crimes because conversations are hidden.
In particular, the move to an application by far-right rallies worries US authorities, some trying to pursue planning for what could turn into violent rallies at or before the presidential inauguration. Joseph R. Biden Jr. next week.
“The proliferation of encrypted platforms where law enforcement cannot even censor the rhetoric has led to the ill-intentioned group behind the curtain,” said Louis Grever, head of the State Crime Investigation Agency Association.
Capitol Riot Fallout
Telegram is especially popular with far right people as it mimics social media. So after Facebook and Twitter restricted Mr. Trump to the service last week and other companies started pulling back support from Parler, the far-right group in Parler and other social networks posted links to the new Telegram channel. And motivate people to join there
In four hours after Parler went offline on Monday, Telegram’s Proud Boys group had more than 4,000 new followers.
“Don’t trust big tech,” read a message from a group of Proud Boys in Parler. “We need to find a safer space.”
On Signal, a Florida-based volunteer group, said Monday it was organizing small chats by city, limiting the number of people to a few, according to a message The New York Times saw.They warned each other not to let anyone. However, they don’t know personally to avoid law enforcement officials from spying on their chats.
The number of users using Telegram, which is based in Dubai, and Signal, which is based in Silicon Valley, exceeds that of Americans, Durov said 94 percent of Telegram’s 25 million new users are from Asia, Europe, Latin America. America, the Middle East and North Africa, Apptopia data shows that while the United States is the # 1 source of information for new Signal users, downloads of both apps have increased in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere.
WhatsApp was quick to say that people misunderstand and see nothing within encrypted chats and calls. But it was too late.
“Now the world understands that Facebook isn’t building apps for them, but Facebook is building apps for their data,” said Signal founder and chief executive Moxie Marlinspike. “It takes a small catalyst. This is to drive everyone to overcome the change. “
On Tuesday, Los Angeles rapper Moses Salee released a music video for his hit Me On Signal and Mr. Musk’s Signal endorsement last week sent shares. Publicly traded signal Advance Inc., a small medical device maker, has climbed from an estimated market value of $ 50 million to more than $ 3 billion (the company has no connection with the messaging app).
Some of the world leaders are also urging people to participate in the app. On Sunday, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Twitter account spoke about his new group on Telegram by Wednesday with nearly 100,000 members.
Apptopia Chief Executive Eli Sapir said that while people’s concerns about Facebook’s data collection are fair, WhatsApp actually uses more secure encryption than Telegram. “It’s like a shift from high sugar to corn syrup.” He said, adding that Signal was the safest of the three.
Meyi Alabi, 18, a student in Ibadan, Nigeria, said this week she was surprised when her mother invited her to join Signal.Her mother downloaded the app as advised by a friend who was worried about WhatsApp.
“I was shocked because you were before me,” she said. “We always told our parents about new apps. Suddenly we were informed.”
Mr. Agrawal, cryptocurrency worker It said his parents had long been involved in several WhatsApp group conversations with college friends and relatives in India. He said they told him they had joined Signal to catch up with the bulk of the chats that were moving there as some participants were concerned about WhatsApp’s new policy.
He said he knew WhatsApp’s policies were bragging about the danger. But most people don’t understand how their information is handled.
“They heard those things – data sharing, Facebook, privacy,” said Agrawal, “and that’s enough for them to say I have to get off this.”