Reports citing Sensor Tower data indicated that Telegram had 1.5 million new downloads between January 6-10 in India.(Bloomberg)
Reports citing Sensor Tower data indicated that Telegram had 1.5 million new downloads between January 6-10 in India.(Bloomberg)

Telegram crosses 500-million subscriber mark led by user additions in Asia

While Telegram did not specify India-specific user numbers, it said 38 per cent of the new users are from Asia, followed by Europe (27 per cent), Latin America (21 per cent) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa at 8 per cent).
PTI, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 10:23 PM IST

New Delhi, Jan 13 (PTI) Messaging service Telegram crossed 500-million subscriber mark globally and added 25 million new users in the last few days as it gained ground amid the controversy over WhatsApp's latest privacy policy update.

While Telegram did not specify India-specific user numbers, it said 38 per cent of the new users are from Asia, followed by Europe (27 per cent), Latin America (21 per cent) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa at 8 per cent).

In a statement, Telegram said it surpassed 500 million monthly active users in the first week of January, and "has continued to grow with 25 million new users joining Telegram in the last 72 hours alone".

Reports citing Sensor Tower data indicated that Telegram had 1.5 million new downloads between January 6-10 in India.

India is the world's second-largest telecom market and the biggest consumer of data. As on October 30, 2020, the total telephone connections stood at 117 crore, of which 115 crore were mobile connections.

A report by Ericsson had stated that Indians used about 12 GB data per month on an average in 2019, the highest consumption globally, and this is expected to rise even further to about 25 GB (gigabytes) per month by 2025.

In a recent blogpost, Telegram CEO and founder Pavel Durov said global user addition has seen a "significant increase" compared to last year when 1.5 million new users signed up every day, and that with its current growth rate, Telegram is on track to reach billions of users in the near future.

"We've had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy. But this time is different. People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services...With half a billion active users and accelerating growth, Telegram has become the largest refuge for those seeking a communication platform committed to privacy and security," he said.

Durov added that the company takes this responsibility very seriously.

"Unlike other popular apps, Telegram doesn't have shareholders or advertisers to report to. We don't do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven't disclosed a single byte of our users' private data to third parties," he claimed.

Apps like Telegram and Signal have seen massive surge in downloads and usage after WhatsApp updated its privacy policy that included a controversial change of linking data of WhatsApp users to Facebook's other products and services.

WhatsApp had also stated that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, 2021, in order to continue using the platform.

This kickstarted a spate of conversations as well as memes on the internet over WhatsApp's alleged sharing of user information with Facebook.

WhatsApp, on its part, has sought to assuage users' concerns, saying its latest policy update does not affect the privacy of messages on the platform.

In a blogpost earlier this week, Facebook-owned WhatsApp emphasised that it does not share users' contact lists or data of groups with Facebook for advertisement purposes.

The blogpost was followed by full-page ads in leading dailies in the country on Wednesday where it sought to clear the air over the changes that have been introduced as part of the latest update.

WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, counts the country among its biggest markets globally.

Signal is also hoping to capitalise on the opportunities in India with its "simple and straightforward" terms of service and privacy policy.

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