While WhatsApp has yet to see massive uninstalls of its app in India, users concerned about privacy are increasingly downloading competing apps like Signal and Telegram, the research companies say, propelling them higher in the charts. downloading graphics and placing these apps ahead of their ubiquitous rival in India for the first time.
The backlash in India – where 400 million users exchange more messages on WhatsApp than anywhere else in the world – forced the messaging app to trigger an ad campaign costing tens of millions of rupees this week in at least 10 English newspapers. and Hindi.
“Respecting your privacy is in our DNA,” WhatsApp said in a newspaper ad.
When asked for comment, WhatsApp referred Reuters news agency to its published privacy statements.
The media campaign – similar to the one it waged two years ago when it was criticized in India for not doing enough to tackle disinformation – underscores the seriousness of the crisis for the messaging platform most popular in the world.
Parents Facebook and WhatsApp have bet big on India and any grumbling user could jeopardize their plans.
Last year, Facebook invested $ 5.7 billion in the digital unit of Indian oil group Reliance, the social media giant’s biggest deal since it bought WhatsApp for $ 22 billion in 2014.
Much of the investment in India is based on a WhatsApp and Reliance project to enable around 30 million mom-and-pop store owners to do digital transactions.
Users around the world were alarmed when WhatsApp said on January 4 that it reserved the right to share certain user data, including location and phone number, with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. .
Signal downloads skip
Signal was India’s most downloaded free app on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, overtaking WhatsApp, according to internet research company Top10VPN.
Signal downloads in India jumped to 7,100,000 between Jan. 5 and 12, down from around 15,000 days earlier, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Telegram downloads increased 40%, while WhatsApp downloads fell 30% during the period.
Manish Khatri, a Mumbai-based smartphone seller, said many of his customers ask if WhatsApp can read their messages.
Indian startups have also reacted quickly.
“Here in India, WhatsApp / Facebook is abusing their monopoly and taking the privacy of millions of users for granted,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, managing director of Alibaba-backed fintech Paytm, said on Twitter.
“We should switch to @signalapp NOW. It is up to us to become a victim or to reject such movements.
MobiKwik, another digital payment company, had started using WhatsApp for business communication, but decided to switch to Google and Signal, its boss said.
“I make myself unavailable on WhatsApp and have advised senior executives to do the same,” MobiKwik CEO Bipin Preet Singh told Reuters.
India’s WhatsApp payment system competes with Paytm and MobiKwik, as well as Walmart’s Google Pay and PhonePe.