Millions flock to Signal and Telegram after Facebook outage

Facebook's loss turned into a gain for apps such as Telegram and Signal. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Signal and Telegram, two private messenger apps, saw downloads and user sign-ups soar during the extended downtime of Facebook's network of apps and services.

Millions of new users joined the Edward Snowden-endorsed Signal on Monday (Oct 4), it said on Twitter. Telegram, whose functionality closely mirrors that of WhatsApp, surged 55 places to top the US iPhone download chart, according to Sensor Tower.

"Telegram exceeded the norm by an order of magnitude, and we welcomed over 70 million refugees from other platforms in one day," founder Pavel Durov wrote on his public Telegram channel the day after. It marked a record increase in user registration and activity for the eight-year-old app.

Facebook suffered a six-hour outage that spanned its WhatsApp messenger, the main social network and photo-sharing app Instagram, shutting out many of its 2.7 billion global users. The situation idled some of the company's employees and prompted a public apology from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg after service had been restored.

Facebook's loss turned into a gain for other social media. Twitter's network stayed online, with Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey tweeting his endorsement of Signal as a suitable WhatsApp alternative and amplifying Snowden's urging of his followers to move away from the Facebook-owned app.

Thousands of rooms on audio-chat app Clubhouse had people talking about the outage, a spokeswoman for the service said, adding that all its main metrics rose.

Signal's focus on privacy - expressed in its policy to not collect any data on its users and thus avoid situations where governments may pressure it to disclose personally identifiable information - has made it a favorite for secure communications. Telegram has also historically added millions of users in the wake of major WhatsApp outages.

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