Telegram founder criticizes WhatsApp over newly updated privacy policy

Telegram, an instant messaging app similar to WhatsApp, has gained traction since WhatsApp updated its terms of service on 6th January 2021.

The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov capitalized on the chaos of the change of WhatsApp’s terms of service, saying that the company doesn’t respect its users. In a blog post, he said, “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.”

He added that Telegram has around 500 million users which has “become a major problem” for Facebook. He criticized WhatsApp of “covert-marketing” and said that there are bots spreading misinformation about Telegram on social media platforms.

According to data from Sensor Tower, between 6th and 7th January 2021, Telegram and Signal received 5,60,000 and 8,400 downloads respectively (on both Android and iOS). WhatsApp, on the other hand, generated 7,68,000 downloads over the two days. In a tweet, Signal mentioned that it has topped the charts on Google Play since the ban.

The new terms of service that has wrecked data havoc state that WhatsApp will be sharing user data with Facebook and businesses that use WhatsApp Business features. This was originally disclosed in October 2020 but implemented now as the features are rolling out.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and now declared the richest man in the world, was one of the first to ask users to switch to Signal after WhatsApp’s update. His tweet was retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Edward Snowden as well. Users have migrated from one platform to the other, in search of stronger and stricter protection of data. WhatsApp’s competitor Signal’s servers crashed temporarily due to the switch.

It is important to note that this is not the first time WhatsApp has had privacy concerns. The difference now is that they aren’t fighting the blatant collection of data as encryption is uncertain and third parties or hackers can access messages. The issue is this data being shared with Facebook, its parent company. The company clarified that the update to its privacy policy will not change its data sharing principles.

WhatsApp users will be required to accept the updated privacy policy and terms of service by 8th February 2021, in order to continue using the app.

The company said, “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.”

Data collection and privacy through social media has been a controversial debate with companies aiming to collect data and information about people and gaining more users. The ethics of social media are blurred and are growing slimmer as people get more engaged and obsessed.

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