Messaging app Signal is reportedly seeking to hire more people to cope, after a surge in installations as people seek alternatives to WhatsApp.
Earlier this week a report indicated the huge numbers of people installing its app, with 800,000 people installing it in just one day.
It comes after concern spiked last week, when WhatsApp notified users around the world it would share data with its owner Facebook as a condition of its use going forward. Users began receiving messages asking them to agree to new terms of service and privacy policies.
What makes this so concerning for many, is that the changes are compulsory and are due to take effect in a month’s time, on 8 February.
Users will not be able to continue using WhatsApp if they don’t agree to the new terms and conditions.
But what is clear is that WhatsApp’s ultimatum leaves no middle ground for users in the rest of the world, and this is not going down well, and has led some including Elon Musk to call for users to use Signal instead.
Telegram is also reportedly seen large uptake.
Now according to Reuters, Signal is seeing “unprecedented” growth and is looking to hire more staff as it seeks to bolster the service and supporting infrastructure, the head of its controlling foundation said on Wednesday.
Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users globally.
Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp and then co-founding the Signal Foundation, declined to give equivalent data for Signal but told Reuters that the expansion in recent days had been “vertical”.
“We’ve seen unprecedented growth this past week,” Acton said in an email to Reuters. “It’s safe to say that because of this record growth, we’re even more interested in finding talented people.”
Acton also reportedly said Signal was working to improve its video and group chat functions, allowing it to compete better with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and other conferencing apps that have become vital to day-to-day life over the past year.
Reuters reported that Signal was downloaded by 17.8 million users over the past seven days, a 62-fold rise from the prior week, citing data from Sensor Tower.
WhatsApp was reportedly downloaded by 10.6 million users during the same period, a 17 percent decline.
It should be noted that the Signal Foundation currently oversees the app, and was launched in February 2018 with Acton providing initial funding of $50 million.
It has reportedly existed on donations since, and Acton said there were no plans to seek different sources of funding.
“Millions of people value privacy enough to sustain it, and we’re trying to demonstrate that there is an alternative to the ad-based business models that exploit user privacy,” Acton said, adding donations were “pouring in”.
It should be noted that Acton in September 2018 admitted he had clashed with Facebook management over its attempts to wring money from its popular messaging app.
Acton also admitted at the time that he had sold the privacy of WhatsApp users, and disagreements happened between him and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before he left the firm.
Acton had left Facebook in November 2017, and was followed by Jan Koum in May 2018, after he also reportedly clashed with Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.