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Signal setting up new servers as users surge after WhatsApp diktat

WhatsApp had told its users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook

Messaging platform Signal  has set up more servers to accommodate the sudden surge in users after Jan 6 when WhatsApp announced a new policy making it mandatory for users to allow it to share their data with Facebook. While the avalanche of new users coming on board Signal in recent days had caused outages in its service. The messenger app says it has now resolved the technical problems.

According to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, a phenomenal 8.8 million new users worldwide downloaded Signal in the week after WhatsApp announced its new privacy policy. This was a quantum leap from the 246,000 new users that came on board in the week before.

In India, Signal’s weekly downloads shot up from 12,000 to 2.7 million. In the UK, the number increased from 7,400 to 191,000,  while in the US the new users went up from 63,000 to 1.1 million.

Telegram has said it had surpassed 500 million active users globally. Downloads jumped from 6.5 million in the week starting 28 December, to 11 million during the following week.

During the same period, WhatsApp's global downloads shrank from 11.3 million to 9.2 million.

Signal urged users to continue with the service and report any further problems. In a series of tweets, it said users might see errors in some of their chats, including missed messages, but this would not affect their security. "Signal is back!" it said.

"Thanks to the millions of new Signal users around the world for your patience."

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp's updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp had told its users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook or they will have to stop using the app from Feb 8. However, after the sudden rush to rivals Signal and Telegram, WhatsApp has decided to postpone the date to May.

The new diktat does not apply to users in the UK and Europe which has sparked accusations of discrimination against the company in countries like India.  WhatsApp appears to be taking advantage of the fact that these countries are still working on their data privacy laws while Europe already has strong cyber laws in place which do not allow the messenger app to share the data of users.