Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has become the go to app for Indians when it comes to chatting. However, a recent update has sparked a lot of backlash from the masses, as many worry about the threat to privacy posed by sharing data between the messaging app and Facebook. Thus, as WhatsApp nears 422 million monthly active users in India, Signal has emerged as a viable alternative, and is being used by average people and businesses alike.

According to a report by TechCrunch, last December, YouTube had around 425 million monthly active users on android and tablets, while WhatsApp was at 422 million monthly active users. This is the first time that WhatsApp has been bested in the country.

Normally, this would not be a big issue, especially since both apps serve different purposes. However, due to public outrage over a controversial update, WhatsApp is seeing competitors that offer similar services (like Signal) grow at a rapid rate.

Signal offers an encrypted messaging service, which facilitates privacy on its platform. Ever since WhatsApp released the new controversial terms and service, many users are looking for alternatives.

The update by WhatsApp intends to enable the app to share more commercial user data with Facebook. Users who do not accept the updated privacy policy, which comes into force in February, will not be able to access chats on the platform, as per alerts sent to some users this week.

Thus, as users looks for better alternatives, Telegram and Signal seem to be at the top of the list, due to their strict privacy policies.

Signal saw 2,200 installs on Indian app stores on Wednesday, up 38% from 1,600 installs in the week that ended on December 30, according to mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Signal has also been endorsed by whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Many large Indian corporations are also shifting to Signal. Chairmen of industry giants such as Tata Group’s N Chandrasekaran and Mahindra Group’s Anand Mahindra have already moved to Signal and are encouraging others to do so as well. Fintech companies including Paytm and PhonePe have increased advocating for Signal after WhatsApp started its own UPI based payments system. Another big push has been by the Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as he tweeted last Thursday “Use Signal.”

Jindal Steel & Power’s chief HR officer Pankaj Lochan, who is also considering moving to another messaging service said “The company is looking at the need of moving away from WhatsApp and considering shifting its day-to-day critical official communication from WhatsApp to the relatively safer messaging platforms like Signal, Telegram, or Google Chat/Meet. Since Gmail is the company’s official platform, there is a thought to make Google Chat/Meet the official channel for communication.”