New York, USA (CNN) – Millions of users have flocked to the encrypted messaging application Signal in the past few days, to the point where it ranked first in both Apple and Google app stores on the free app lists this week.
Signal recorded about 7.5 million downloads worldwide from the App Store and Google Play between Thursday and Sunday, more than 43 times the downloads it had seen during the previous week, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.
Encrypted messaging services like Signal have gained popularity in recent years, as people have become increasingly interested in protecting their private information. This increased interest in “Signal” in recent days comes on the heels of a new notification from the messaging application “WhatsApp” owned by “Facebook” about updating the terms of service.
Signal also received support last week from several of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The jump in new Signal app downloads came on the heels of riots in Washington, DC, and moves by Amazon, Apple and Google to cut ties with Parlor, the social media platform favored by members of the far right.
Another encrypted messaging app, Telegram, said on Tuesday that it had attracted 25 million new users from all over the world in the past 72 hours, bringing the total active user base on the platform to 500 million.
The massive increase in traffic on Signal caused some gaps, as Signal tweeted that verification codes for new user subscriptions may be delayed “because a lot of new people are trying to join Signal at the moment.” The issue was resolved over the weekend.
All private messages between individuals and most companies on “WhatsApp” are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that the application cannot see them or share them with “Facebook”, and users are notified before messaging a company where messages are not encrypted. However, WhatsApp collects other user information, such as how and when someone uses the application, and the user’s device information such as IP addresses.
However, the company says these data-sharing practices are not new. The latest WhatsApp privacy update was launched worldwide in 2016. At the time, it provided WhatsApp users the ability to unsubscribe from sharing data with Facebook, an option that was only available for a short period, and in this last update, the reference to Option to cancel the subscription that has now expired.
“The update does not change the data sharing practices of WhatsApp with Facebook and does not affect how people communicate in particular with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company remains “strongly committed to protecting people’s privacy.” .