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The rise of Alt-Tech: WhatsApp’s new policy opens the door for an alternative messaging app

Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s new policy change has resulted in millions of users giving alternative platforms a chance, US-based messaging app Signal and Russian based tech company Telegram are the new messaging services making headway right now. On 4 January WhatsApp announced a new privacy policy update which was mandatory for all its users, the policy allows WhatsApp to share certain key user information with parent company Facebook.

The reason for the policy change is to allow WhatsApp to start showing Facebook Ads on its network, as well as open the way for e-commerce and digital payments later on down the road. Unfortunately, the new update was met with swift backlash from WhatsApp users, not so much in complaints but rather in downloads of alternative messaging services Signal and Telegram.

Facebook over the past few years has suffered from numerous controversies over data privacy and has made many people wary of the tech giant and social media companies in general. The Cambridge Analytica data debacle in which Facebook data was used to influence multiple elections around the world is one issue, another was highlighted in the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” showing how big social media companies manipulate users to keep them addicted to their platforms.

All these controversies have made Facebook very unpopular among internet users, and ironically as its unpopularity increases, it then relies more heavily on subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram for future revenue. So more intrusive policy changes should be expected in the future. WhatsApp’s loss is Signal and Telegram’s gain, both companies have reported increase users this week, with telegram reporting 25 million new users in three days increasing its total active monthly user base to 500 million.

Facebook’s search popularity according to Google Trends

Signal, which was created by Moxie Marlinspike and former WhatsApp founder Brian Acton also received 1.3 million downloads on Monday alone, this came after world’s richest man Elon Musk endorsed the messenger as a viable alternative to WhatsApp. As a result, Signal moved to number one globally, as the most downloaded app on the Google App store, Telegram moved to second and WhatsApp moved down to 38th place according to app analytics website AppTopia.

Messaging apps are big business as it is reported that online users spend 60% of their time on messaging apps than on other social networks. Users giving Signal and Telegram a chance is good news for those interested in Alt-Tech. As big tech companies take their user base for granted more people will look for alternatives, which is good for the tech space as monopolies can’t form and people can’t be locked into a specific companies eco-system and business model.

Alt-Tech is the future of technology, people are getting tired of the status quo in regards to how big tech handles scandals, data breaches, censorship and miss information. Many users also don’t want their personal data to be made the product that then is sold for advertising revenue. The major tech companies also hold huge amounts of power rivalling nations and governments, this power needs to be checked or broken up to open the way for healthy competition and new business models that don’t commoditize personal data.

Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay 

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