After WhatsApp controversy, Telegram now has 500 million users; 25 million signups in 72 hours alone

In case you missed it, WhatsApp is currently under fire for the new terms and privacy policy introduced within the app recently. The updated terms mainly centre around integration with Facebook’s family of apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and of course, Facebook themselves, and users are not happy.

Privacy is a concern, while there is also the possibility that Facebook might introduce ads onto the WhatsApp platform—which would certainly make fiscal sense to the company, despite the clear opposition from users worldwide. As such, users have been considering the pros and cons of switching to alternatives such as Telegram and Signal.

25 million users switched to Telegram within 72 hours

According to Android Central, Telegram has now hit the 500 million user mark. Of that number, 25 million new signups happened within 72 hours—probably due to the controversy surrounding WhatsApp and Facebook’s new terms. Despite attempts from the beleaguered companies to assure users that privacy is still a focus for them, it appears that users are not convinced.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has responded to the sharp uptake in numbers by explaining a couple of important aspects (via Telegram, obviously). In his post, Durov addresses the (very valid) question of updating company servers and infrastructure to handle the now-increased load of new users, saying that “a project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year”.

The messaging app, according to Durov, is expected to reach “billions of users”, and there are two main options: sell the company, or monetise. The first is out of the question, with the Telegram founder using WhatsApp as an example of what not to do in this situation:

“We are not going to sell the company like the founders of Whatsapp. The world needs Telegram to stay independent as a place where users are respected and high-quality service is ensured. Telegram must continue to serve the world as an example of a tech company that strives for perfection and integrity. And, as the sad examples of our predecessors show, that is impossible if you become part of a corporation.”

Instead, changes will be made on Telegram to “generate revenue” in 2022, although this will be done in compliance with the preset values of the company. According to Durov, these changes will be hardly noticeable by users, and it will be done in a “non-intrusive way”. Features that are currently free will continue to be free of charge, but it looks like Telegram will be adding business-centric features as part of the monetisation process.

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Additionally, messaging on Telegram will continue to remain ad-free—a direct response to concerns over potential WhatsApp messaging ads.

“We think that displaying ads in private one-to-one chats or group chats is a bad idea. Communication between people should be free of advertising of any sort.”

It’s worth remembering that Durov warned everyone back in 2019 to delete WhatsApp from their devices to protect their privacy. Meanwhile, the original founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, has also raised concerns over the potential for ads within the app, admitting that he “sold users’ privacy to a larger benefit”.

To read Pavel Durov’s full statement, click here.

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