A controversial new privacy update has seen WhatsApp users flock to rival messaging apps, in what the founder of Telegram has described as “the largest digital migration in human history”.
In a blog post on Thursday, Telegram founder Pavel Durov revealed that Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Brazil leader Jair Bolsonaro were among those who had joined the platform in recent days.
WhatsApp’s new Terms of Service includes a data-sharing agreement with Facebook, which prompted widespread condemnation from digital rights and privacy advocates.
The new policy does not effect users in the UK and Europe but it has once again raised concerns about the relationship between the world’s most popular messaging app and Facebook.
People across social media, including Elon Musk and Edward Snowden, encouraged WhatsApp users to switch to more privacy-focused alternatives, such as Signal and Telegram.
In the space of just 72 hours, Telegram recorded 25 million new users, pushing the total number of users above 500 million, Mr Durov said on Tuesday.
“Since my last post, the already massive influx of new users to Telegram has only accelerated. We may be witnessing the largest digital migration in human history,” Mr Durov wrote in his Telegram channel on Thursday.
“By removing the manipulative algorithms that have become synonymous with 2010s technology platforms, Telegram channels restore transparency and integrity to public ‘one-to-many’ communication.”
Mr Erdogan and Mr Bolsonaro join eight other world leaders who are already present on Telegram, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are honoured that political leaders, as well as numerous public organisations, rely on Telegram to combat misinformation and spread awareness about important issues in their societies,” Mr Durov said.
WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.