The Signal messaging app logo on a smartphone, January 13 2021. Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC
The Signal messaging app logo on a smartphone, January 13 2021. Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

San Francisco — Signal  restored its services at the weekend  after the application faced technical difficulties as it dealt with a flood of new users after rival messaging app WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, announced a controversial change in privacy terms.

Signal has seen a rise in downloads after a change in WhatsApp's privacy terms, which required WhatsApp users to share their data with both Facebook  and Instagram.

The world’s richest man, technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, led calls to switch from WhatsApp to Signal, fuelling the surge of users to the app.

The non-profit Signal Foundation based in Silicon Valley, which oversees the app, was launched in February 2018 with Brian Acton, who cofounded WhatsApp before selling it to Facebook, providing initial funding of $50m.

On Friday, WhatsApp said it would delay the new policy launch to May from February, adding that the policy update does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.

Some WhatsApp users had already received notification in January that it was preparing the  new privacy policy and terms.

Facebook has been rolling out business tools on WhatsApp over the past year as it moves to boost revenue from higher-growth units such as WhatsApp and Instagram while knitting together e-commerce infrastructure across the company.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19bn in 2014 but has been slow to monetise it.

The app already shares certain categories of personal data  with Facebook.

“We don't keep logs of who everyone's messaging or calling. We also can't see your shared location and we don't share your contacts with Facebook,” it said.

WhatsApp said in October that it would start to offer in-app purchases via Facebook Shops and would offer firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers.



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