Unfounded hysteria or genuine cause for alarm?
Within days Telegram and Signal reported tens of millions of new downloads. All of a sudden everyone was signalling their intent to move away from WhatsApp to… anything else. With the aid of social media’s rapid, automatic amplification of trending topics, an anti-WhatsApp sentiment was quickly gaining traction across the globe. But most people didn’t really understand exactly what WhatsApp intended to share with Facebook and other companies under its control. They were just, simply, terrified of the idea that Facebook was going to be able to read, store and share perceived private data (messages, phone numbers and other personal information).
Or what about Signal, a messaging app known for its superior open-source encryption technology that ensures a high level of privacy as messages cannot be read by third parties, while being quite difficult to use?
By the way, Signal is owned and operated by a non-profit organisation called Signal Foundation, co-founded by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton. According to Forbes, WhatsApp uses Signal’s encryption protocol, albeit in a proprietary deployment. (Read more: Signal Vs Telegram — 3 Things You Need To Know Before You Quit WhatsApp [https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/01/14/3-things-to-know-before-quitting-whatsapp-for-signal-or-telegram-or-apple-imessage-after-backlash])
WeChat, the huge Chinese messaging app has a South African connection in Naspers, the majority owner of Prosus, a Netherlands-based company that owns about 30% of WeChat parent Tencent. (Remarkably, Prosus is currently one of the world’s pre-eminent investors in technology companies and owns or has large stakes in businesses such as OLX, Autotrader, Letgo, Udemy and many others.)