WhatsApp on Tuesday reassured users about privacy at the Facebook -owned messaging service as people flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal following a tweak to its terms .

There was “ a lot of misinformation” about an update to terms of service regarding an option to use WhatsApp to message businesses , Facebook executive Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram , said in a tweet .

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WhatsApp ’s new terms sparked criticism, as users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before February 8 will be cut off from the messaging app .

“The policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way ,” Mosseri said .

The update regards how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook , which could use the information for targeting ads, according to the social network.

“ We can ’ t see your private messages or hear your calls , and neither can Facebook ,” WhatsApp said in a blog post .

“ We don ’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can ’ t see your shared location and neither can Facebook .”

Location data along with message contents is encrypted end -to -end , according to WhatsApp.

“ We ’ re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions , and send helpful information like purchase receipts ,” WhatsApp said in the post .

“ Whether you communicate with a business by phone , email , or WhatsApp , it can see what you ’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes , which may include advertising on Facebook .”

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– Tapping Telegram –

Encrypted messaging app Telegram has seen user ranks surge on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement , said its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov .

Durov , 36 , said on his Telegram channel Tuesday that the app had over 500 million monthly active users in the first weeks of January and “ 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone.”

WhatsApp boasts more than two billion users.

“ People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services ,” Durov said without directly referring to the rival app .

Encrypted messaging app Signal has also seen a huge surge in demand , helped by a tweeted recommendation by renowned serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries , particularly in the former Soviet Union and Iran, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news .

Durov said Telegram has become a “ refuge” for those seeking a private and secure communications platform and assured new users that his team “ takes this responsibility very seriously . ”

Telegram was founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov , who also founded Russia’ s social media network VKontakte .

Telegram refuses to cooperate with authorities and handover encryption keys , which resulted in its ban in several countries , including Russia.
Last year , Russia announced that it will lift its ban on the messenger app after more than two years of unsuccessful attempts to block it .

( AFP )

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