(PTI) Signal saw a meteoric rise as a direct result of the privacy debate surrounding its biggest rival WhatsApp, but its co-founder Brian Acton said the messaging platform hopes to capitalize on opportunities with its terms of service. “Simple and straightforward”. and privacy policy.

Signal, a nonprofit, recorded millions of downloads around the world after WhatsApp updated its privacy policy that included a controversial change in linking WhatsApp users’ data to other Facebook products and services.

Talk to PTI, Acton said that I believe the Indian market has “completely exceeded all expectations” and the growth of the last few days has prompted the company to expand its capacity to meet growing demand.

“And the growth is just amazing, it’s been so rapid over the past 72 hours that few of us have gotten much sleep. It’s a good problem, ”Acton said.

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While he did not disclose details of the number of users or the addition seen over the past few days, Acton said Signal – which has fewer than 50 employees – leads the iOS App Store. in 40 countries and is number one in 18 countries on Google Play.

“On both of these systems you can see our download rates, over 10 million downloads, we’ve really seen tremendous usage and growth in the last three to four days. And really, we don’t see it stopping, ”he said.

Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp in 2009 with Jan Koum, left the company following a disagreement over how Facebook should monetize WhatsApp. He then co-founded Signal in 2014 with Moxie Marlinspike.

Signal is a cross-platform, end-to-end encrypted messaging service that allows users to have one-on-one and group chats.

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Acton’s latest comments come against the backdrop of WhatsApp’s controversial update to its terms of service and privacy policy regarding how it handles user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations. through the products of the social media giant.

WhatsApp also said that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, 2021, in order to continue using the platform.

This sparked a series of conversations as well as memes across the internet because of WhatsApp’s alleged sharing of user information with Facebook. Many users have also started to turn to competing platforms such as Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp, for its part, has sought to allay user concerns by saying its latest policy update does not affect the privacy of messages on the platform.

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In a blog post earlier this week, Facebook-owned WhatsApp pointed out that it does not share users’ contact lists or group data with Facebook for advertising purposes.

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WhatsApp, which has more than 400 million users in India, counts the country among its largest markets in the world. WhatsApp ran full-page ads in major dailies on Wednesday explaining what has changed with the latest update as part of the outreach.

Signal’s Acton called Facebook’s update “complicated” and said, “It’s really hard for an average user to analyze it and understand exactly what they’re doing and wanting to do, why they’re doing it.” .

“I think when people think about their conversations they want very simple and straightforward terms of service and privacy policy, Signal gives them that. Signal presents a very simple product, preserving confidentiality, no advertising, no user tracking and your data is yours, ”he said.

Acton further said the platform was also pleasantly surprised by the response from high profile users and business executives in India, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Mahindra group chairman Anand. Mahindra.

Regarding monetization, Acton said Signal is a non-profit organization and operates through donations from individuals, businesses and grants, like the Wikipedia model.

Highlighting the private nature of the platform, the executive said it only had information on three aspects: the account itself, the date the account was created, and the last date and time logged in.

“Everything else is either encrypted or not stored,” he said, adding that the company was open to engaging with government and policy makers to discuss various aspects of data protection and confidentiality.

Acton acknowledged that the recent spike in user additions may wane in the coming days as the controversy around WhatsApp cools, but added that the whole episode brought to light the importance of privacy and the security of user data.

“I think in the short term people will have WhatsApp and Signal side by side. They will learn the differences, they will see how we compete with each other. In the long run, it’s a debate about whether there will be an emerging winner, and you know that will take a lot of work and effort on our part, ”he said.

Acton said the company is committed to privacy and keeping the terms of service simple for its users, and hoped the platform will continue to grow in the future.

“So I think it’s a story that will play out next year. I am just excited about this opportunity to approach the Indian market. I never expected such a strong reaction, ”he said.