Anticipated by the ruling of a Brazilian court to ban WhatsApp, internet users in the South American country are heading towards Telegram to carry out their social conversations.

Earlier today, WhatsApp was banned for 48 hours after a court ordered the ban of the world’s most popular messaging service for failure to comply with a July court order. The ban will come into effect at midnight December 17 and will last for two days.

This has invariably helped Telegram – WhatsApp’s most notable competitor in the region and the world’s second most popular messaging service – as WhatsApp users are switching over to Telegram even before the ban comes into effect. Telegram reportedly added one million users in a single day. Since the report has come out, Telegram has added 500,000 more users, taking the tally to 1.5 million.

The surge in surplus users signing in is such, that Telegram has been witnessing difficulty sending out account verification code through SMS. In the past, Telegram had reaped the rewards of WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook by adding a whopping 5 million users into the service in February.

WhatsApp suffered due to its own messaging policies, which the court contended as unregulated and illegal. Telegram, on the other hand is aware of possible misuse and has relied on encryption technology to safeguard the messages. It also uses a self-destruct timer for messages similar to Snapchat.

The Brazilian court has ordered SindiTelebrasil, Brazil’s mobile communications company to put into effect the court’s decision.

This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet,

stated Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

The ban has prompted avid WhatsApp users in the country to come out and protest against the ruling. This ban marks a radical shift by the Brazil Government from its earlier stand on net neutrality. The Government set examples by passing the Internet Bill of Rights that prevented any agency from monitoring online activity of its citizens. It even raised displeasure against the US government for its NSA surveillance policy.

The ban was enforced by Sao Paulo State Justice Tribunal in São Bernardo do Campo, as Brazil’s most popular messaging service failed to comply with the July 23 court order, which issued criminal charges against WhatsApp for failure to protect user privacy and being the main means of communication for drug lords in the region. The court notified the messaging service on August 7 and ordered the Facebook subsidiary to pay a fine for non-compliance.

Telegram’s 60 million plus user base looks bleak in comparison to 800 million strong WhatsApp users. Even in Brazil, WhatsApp has over a 100 million users and the 1.5 million user shift is a minuscule percentage of the number. Telegram is stipulated to benefit majorly after the ban comes to effect and continues for a few days.

We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world,

said Jan Koum, chief executive of WhatsApp.


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