How WhatsApp’s Privacy Updates Impacted Telegram and Signal

With WhatsApp’s new privacy policy set to take effect on June 19th, we decided to take a look at how Telegram and Signal have performed since the changes were announced in January.

This past January, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and terms of service to facilitate better integration with other Facebook offerings. Notably, these revisions raised some concerns around how the American messaging app intends to share information with Facebook and its subsidiaries going forward.

Unsurprisingly, WhatsApp’s competitors seized on the opportunity to promote their own products. Two names, in particular, managed to disentangle themselves from the online confusion: Telegram and Signal.

While we’re happy to leave it to the online pundits and keyboard jockeys to hash out the implications for digital privacy, we nevertheless felt compelled to do some digging. With WhatsApp’s new terms set to take effect on June 19th, we wanted to see how the announcement has affected the messaging app landscape in the months that followed. In this article, we’ll take a look at the following:

iOS Downloads for WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal (January 1st 2021 - May 24th, 2021)

1. WhatsApp Privacy iOS Downloads for WhatsApp Telegram Signal — 42matters

While WhatsApp’s announcement certainly precipitated a spike in downloads for the iOS versions of Telegram and Signal, the gains didn’t have much staying power.

Despite tallying some 20,112,716 downloads in January 2021, Telegram notched just 13,390,558 the following month.

Likewise, Signal went from 9,956,831 downloads in January to just 3,515,671 in February. 

WhatsApp, despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth, managed to increase its downloads, earning 18,066,339 in January and 19,602,059 in February.

For more iOS app insights, set up a meeting with one of our experts!

Android Downloads for WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal (January 1st 2021 - May 24th, 2021)

2. WhatsApp Privacy Android Downloads for WhatsApp Telegram Signal — 42matters

The Android numbers tell a similar story — but there’s a slight twist!

Telegram earned a whopping 49,185,701 downloads in January 2021; and while those numbers have fallen back to earth slightly, the app is still performing admirably. Indeed, Telegram received 42,282,892 downloads in April 2021 and is currently on pace for another strong performance in May.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Signal. Despite an impressive 47,358,912-download outing in January 2021, they received just 12,145,031 downloads the following month. In April, Signal received just 3,196,123 downloads.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp managed to weather the storm quite well. In January 2021, they tallied 43,695,603 downloads. Just two months later, in March, they earned a whopping 55,308,021 downloads. Not too shabby.

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Combined Downloads for WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal (January 1st 2021 - May 24th, 2021)

3. WhatsApp Privacy Combined Downloads for WhatsApp Telegram Signal — 42matters

Needless to say, the combined numbers reflect the separate iOS and Android numbers quite closely. So, we’ll keep our analysis short: WhatsApp remains strong, Telegram continues to put up decent numbers, and Signal has had by far the most discouraging performance.

To learn more about WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal, set up a meeting!


To borrow a line from Sam Clemens, the report of WhatsApp’s death has been grossly exaggerated. That’s not to say they’re out of the proverbial woods, however. With the June 19th deadline approaching, we’ll be keeping an eye on the download trends for encrypted messaging apps.

In any case, there’s another question that’s potentially more interesting than whether or not Telegram has the horsepower to eventually overtake WhatsApp. Specifically, this question deals with the role of social media — along with viral headlines, trending topics, hashtags, etc. — in the global app market.

It’s easy to get lost in the gradations of already interminable privacy policies and terms of service. Indeed, for the layman and the casual user of apps, the implications of the various data practices are something of a black box.

Now, it may seem cynical, but this is a convenient fact for those looking to gin up online controversy. So, if you want to cut through the fog of app competition; and if you want to see how consumers are really responding to the latest app privacy headlines; be sure to shoot us a message. We’d be happy to provide you with the latest numbers and insights.

For more messaging app insights, chat with one of our experts!

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