Encrypted messaging app Telegram experienced a surge of users on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement, said its founder.
Russia-born Pavel Durov, 36, said on his Telegram channel on Tuesday, January 12 that the app had more than 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, which has a centre of operations based in Dubai, is a popular social media platform in a number of countries, 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 hand over 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.
Why are people leaving WhatsApp?
WhatsApp on Tuesday reassured users about privacy at the Facebook-owned messaging service as people flocked to rivals 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.
WhatsApp's new terms sparked criticism, as users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before Monday, February 8 will be cut off from the messaging app.
"We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way," the company said in the FAQ section of its official website. "Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data."
The company says the app still protects and secures users’ private messages. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook will be able to see messages or listen in on phone calls or voice messages.
“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook. WhatsApp groups remain private,” the company wrote.
“Personal messages are protected by end-to-end encryption. We will never weaken this security and we clearly label each chat so you know our commitment.”