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Signal, Telegram overtake WhatsApp's app downloads by millions over the last week

Photo credit: Christian Wiediger (@christianw) / Unsplash

WhatsApp's privacy policy changes have sparked discussions on the types of user data being collected and how messaging apps handle them. The discussions have likely helped Telegram and Signal gain momentum in app downloads over the last week.

Signal garners more than 17 million downloads as Telegram surpasses 500 million MAU

WhatsApp has become a messaging giant in recent years, so it is quite interesting to see Telegram and Signal beat the Facebook-owned up in terms of new downloads in the past week. Analytics firm Sensor Tower reported (via AP) that, of the three messaging apps, Signal gained the highest downloads from Jan. 5 to Jan. 12 at 17.8 million on Apple and Google platforms. In the same week, Telegram and WhatsApps saw 15.7 million and 10.6 million installs, respectively.

Notably, Signal's app download count was only at 285,000 in the previous week. Telegram's figure was only at 7.6 million, while WhatsApp was higher at 12.7 million. Within the Jan. 5 to Jan. 12 period, Telegram also announced that it surpassed 500 million monthly active users.

While the link between Signal and Telegram's growth to WhatsApp's slump cannot be denied, the Facebook-owned messaging app remains the biggest of its kind worldwide, with two billion users as of February 2020. Experts also do not expect these changes to do real damage to WhatsApp's traffic. Apptopia's VP 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."

What data do Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp collect from their users

Around the same period, WhatsApp started telling its users they need to accept the new terms and conditions, including provisions about sharing collected data with Facebook. Users who will not opt-in to the policy changes by Feb. 8 can no longer use the app. It then begs the question, what are the kinds of data these apps collect from the users.

A comparison shared by ZDNet makes it easier to understand why Signal is the top messaging app alternative. According to information developers submitted to Apple, the only data Signal collects is the user's phone number, and it also does not trace back to their identity.

Telegram gathers a longer list of contact details -- name, phone number, and user ID -- linked to the user's identity for app functionality purposes. On the other hand, WhatsApp collects different sorts of data, such as device ID for advertising or marketing use, purchase history, and coarse location.

Featured photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

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