This graph shows how South African WhatsApp users are flocking to Telegram

Users around the world have flocked to Telegram after WhatsApp’s most recent privacy policy update, and South Africans are no exception.

WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and terms of service on 7 January, stating that users must accept them by 8 February 2021 or they will no longer be able to continue using the app.

Among the changes is a clause that allows Facebook to share data from WhatsApp across its other products.

Many users took this latest update as the impetus for their migration to other messaging apps with greater privacy.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov stated that the messaging app has seen a massive spike in new users since the beginning of January 2021.

“In the first week of January, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users,” Durov said. “After that, it kept growing: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone.”

“These new users came from across the globe – 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America, and 8% from MENA.”

This time it’s different

Durov said this growth is much larger than Telegram saw last year.

“We’ve had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy. But this time is different,” he said.

“People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services.”

“They no longer want to be held hostage by tech monopolies that seem to think they can get away with anything as long as their apps have a critical mass of users,” he said.

Telegram has become the largest refuge for users seeking a private and secure messaging platform, said Durov, adding that the company will not let its new users down.

South African Telegram migration

Many WhatsApp users in South Africa are also seeking apps with a greater focus on privacy.

According to data collected by LucidView, there has been a sharp increase in Telegram connections relative to WhatsApp on its network.

LucidView provides IPS, Content Filter, Saturation Management and  Reporting/Analysis services to ISPs and organizations around the world.

LucidView CEO Andrew Wilson estimates that around 70% of its users are South African, which means the rise in Telegram connections on its network compared with WhatsApp also indicates a shift in South African app adoption.

Lucidview took the daily connections to WhatsApp and Telegram and then divided the WhatsApp daily total by the Telegram daily total to obtain daily ratio plot points since 1 November 2020.

The graph below shows how the daily ratio between WhatsApp and Telegram connections has swung in favour of Telegram over the past few weeks.

“Although we are not able to provide an indication of the exact number of users that this data represents, it is a fair estimate that it is a couple of million,” Wilson said.

Now read: WhatsApp compared to alternatives Telegram and Signal

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This graph shows how South African WhatsApp users are flocking to Telegram