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Business News/ News / India/  Telegram founder slams Facebook; accuses WhatsApp of covert marketing
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Telegram founder slams Facebook; accuses WhatsApp of covert marketing

Telegram, which boasts of around 500 million users right now, has “become a major problem” for Facebook, said founder Pavel Durov. He also urged the tech giant to respect its users.

Instant messaging apps Telegram and Signal witnessed a spike in user count since WhatsApp tweaked its terms of service (ToS) on January 6.Premium
Instant messaging apps Telegram and Signal witnessed a spike in user count since WhatsApp tweaked its terms of service (ToS) on January 6.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov, capitalized on the unrest created by the change to WhatsApp’s terms of service, accusing the social media giant of not respecting its users. “I hear Facebook has an entire department devoted to figuring out why Telegram is so popular. Imagine dozens of employees working on just that full-time. I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect your users," Durov said in a blog post.

Further, Durov added that Telegram has about 500 million users right now and has “become a major problem" for Facebook. He also accused WhatsApp of “covert marketing" and said there are bots spreading false information about Telegram on social media.

Instant messaging apps Telegram and Signal have gained users since WhatsApp made the change to its terms of service (ToS) on January 6. The new ToS informs users that WhatsApp will now be sharing user data with Facebook and businesses that use WhatsApp Business features. While the company had originally disclosed this in October last year, the change to its ToS was made now, since the features are rolling out.

According to data from Sensor Tower, Telegram generated 560,000 downloads from India (on both Android and iOS) on January 6 and 7, while Signal generated only 8,400 downloads. WhatsApp, on the other hand, generated 768,000 downloads over the two days. Signal noted, in a tweet today, that it has topped the charts on Google Play since the ban.

Electric car maker Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, who recently became the richest man in the world, was amongst the first to ask users to move to Signal after the update. Musk’s tweet was retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Edward Snowden as well. Users have moved away from the platform globally in numbers large enough to crash competitor Signal’s servers temporarily.

This is not the first time WhatsApp has privacy concerns. The difference this time is that concerns are being raised over how WhatsApp shares data with Facebook, rather than whether messages on the platforms are encrypted and can be read by third parties or hackers. The company clarified in a statement that the update to its policy doesn’t change its data sharing principles.

“We updated the privacy policy to describe that going forward businesses can choose to receive secure hosting services from our parent company Facebook to help manage their communications with their customers on WhatsApp. Though of course, it remains up to the user whether or not they want to message with a business on WhatsApp. The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world," the company said.

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Prasid Banerjee
An engineering dropout, Prasid Banerjee has reported on technology in India for various publications. He reports on technology through text and audio, focusing on its core aspects, like consumer impact, policy and the future.
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Published: 09 Jan 2021, 03:37 PM IST
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