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These are the secure chat apps to download now that Facebook ruined WhatsApp

Updated Jan 25th, 2021 6:23AM EST
WhatsApp Alternative
Image: Signal

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  • Two chat apps that offer end-to-end encryption and cross-platform support have been surging after Facebook announced the new WhatsApp privacy policy change, Signal, and Telegram.
  • WhatsApp will start sharing user data with Facebook on February 8th, and there’s no way to opt out of the new data collection policy.
  • Millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram on iPhone and Android in response to the news.

Facebook will soon start collecting user data from WhatsApp users, and this time around, there’s no way to opt out of the feature. The company informed all of its customers a few days ago about the upcoming privacy policy change. Facebook made it clear that the only way to continue using the app after February 8th is to agree to have their WhatsApp data shared with Facebook. WhatsApp is the most popular chat in the world and Facebook’s only end-to-end encrypted chat solution. What’s great about WhatsApp is that it works on iPhone and Android and comes with a desktop client. As a result, WhatsApp is the cross-platform app many people use to communicate. But WhatsApp isn’t the only app to support end-to-end encryption and cross-platform support, and people have started flocking to alternatives. Two such apps are Signal and Telegram, with downloads surging since Facebook confirm it would ruin WhatsApp after all.

Both Signal and Telegram will offer support for rich instant messaging and voice calling features, just like WhatsApp does.

According to data from Sensor Tower, Signal was downloaded 7.5 million installs globally on iPhone and Android between January 6th and January 10th. That’s 43 times the number from the previous week, CNBC reports.

Signal’s popularity surged last week as Tesla CEO Elon Musk told his followers to “use Signal” in response to Facebook’s WhatsApp change. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted Musk.

Signal had problems accommodating its new customers following the surge in downloads.

Signal uses the same end-to-end encryption system like Facebook’s WhatsApp, but it doesn’t collect any data from users. The company explained on Reddit a few days ago how the app works in response to the survey. Before the new WhatsApp privacy policy change prompt hit iPhones and Androids a few days ago, a comparison showed the incredible amount of data that Facebook Messenger collects on iPhone compared to Signal, iMessage, and WhatsApp. But even WhatsApp collects more user data than Signal and iMessage.

App Privacy Labels
App privacy labels in iOS 14 – from left to right: Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Image source: 9to5Mac

Telegram saw 5.6 million downloads from Wednesday through Sunday, according to information from Apptopia. Telegram founder Pavel Durov has often criticized Facebook, including WhatsApp, despite the latter’s full encryption support. Durov advised people to delete WhatsApp in previous remarks.

Even so, WhatsApp continues to be heavily used, and there are no signs that the app will see a major decline anytime soon. “It’s too ingrained. My guess is there is a very small number of people who use WhatsApp daily that are recently deleting it,” Apptopia’s vice president of insights Adam Blacker told CNBC. “Even those who are downloading and using Signal or Telegram will continue to use WhatsApp as that is where most of their friends and family are. They may start to talk to certain people on Signal but still chat with their mom on WhatsApp.”

If you’re looking to get off WhatsApp and find another cross-platform secure chat apps, you’ll also have to have your friends and family download the new apps. Here’s where you can read more about the apps and download Signal and Telegram on iPhone, Android, and computers.

UPDATE: Telegram does not offer end-to-end encryption by default. Users need to enable Secret chats to take advantage of the extra protection.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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