Signal to hire more staff due to increased demand after WhatsApp controversy

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File image of Brian Acton, one of the founders of WhatsApp, speaking at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, United States. October 25, 2016. REUTERS / Mike Blake

Por Munsif Vengattil and Eva Mathews

Jan 13 (Reuters) – Messaging app Signal has seen “unprecedented” growth following a controversial change in the privacy terms of rival WhatsApp, and is seeking more staff to beef up the service and infrastructure, said Wednesday. head of the foundation that controls it.

Along with Telegram, another encrypted messaging app, Signal has been the main beneficiary of outrage over changes announced last week, which require WhatsApp users to share their data with both Facebook and Instagram.

Telegram said on Wednesday that it had surpassed 500 million active users worldwide.

Brian Acton, one of the founders of WhatsApp before it was sold to Facebook and who later created the Signal Foundation, did not want to provide equivalent data on Signal, but said the expansion in recent days had been “vertical.”

“We have 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 are even more interested in finding talented people.”

He also said that Signal was working to improve its video and group chat features, allowing it to better compete with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and other conferencing apps that have become vital to everyday life over the past year.

Signal was downloaded by 17.8 million users in the past seven days, a 62-fold increase from the previous week, according to Sensor Tower data. WhatsApp was downloaded by 10.6 million users during the same period, 17% less.

Privacy advocates have criticized the WhatsApp changes for what they see as Facebook’s poor record of advocating for consumers when handling their data. Many have suggested that users migrate to other platforms.

The Silicon Valley-based nonprofit Signal Foundation is currently overseeing the app that was launched in February 2018 with seed funding of $ 50 million from Acton.

It has existed on a donation basis ever since, with Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk among his supporters. Acton said there were no plans to seek different sources of funding.

“Millions of people value privacy enough to sustain it and we are trying to show that there is an alternative to advertising-based business models that exploit user privacy,” Acton said, adding that donations were “pouring in.” .

(Report by Munsif Vengattil and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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