Signal ramps up hiring after WhatsApp controversy drives downloads

WhatsApp

Messaging app Signal has seen “unprecedented” growth after a controversial change in rival WhatsApp’s privacy policy and is seeking to hire more staff as it attempts to bolster the service and supporting infrastructure, the mind of its controlling foundation has said.

Along with the other encrypted app, Telegram, Signal has been the main beneficiary of internet outrage around the changes announced last week, which need WhatsApp users to share their own data using both Facebook and Instagram.

Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users worldwide.

Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp prior to promoting it to Facebook after which co-founding the Signal Foundation, declined to give equivalent data for Signal but stated the growth in recent days was “vertical”.

“We’ve seen unprecedented growth this past week,” Acton said in an email to Reuters.

He also said Signal was working to boost its video and group chat purposes, enabling it to compete with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, along with other conferencing apps that have become vital to day-to-day life over the last year.

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Signal was downloaded from 17.8 million users within the previous seven days, a 62-fold increase from the prior week, according to data in Sensor Tower. WhatsApp was downloaded from 10.6 million users during precisely the same span, a 17% decline.

Privacy advocates have jumped onto the WhatsApp changes, pointing to the things they say is Facebook’s bad track record of supporting consumers’ interests when handling their data, with many suggesting users migrate to other platforms.

The non-profit Signal Foundation based in Silicon Valley, which currently oversees the app, was launched in February 2018 with Acton providing initial funding of $50 million.

It has existed on donations since, with Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk among supporters, and Acton said there were no plans to seek different sources of funding.

“Millions of individuals value solitude enough to sustain it, and we are attempting to demonstrate that there’s an alternate to the ad-based business models that exploit user privacy,” Acton said, adding donations were “pouring in”.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Translation from English to other languages via Google Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru. Editing by Patrick Graham and Bernard Orr.

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