As free, secure and encrypted messaging becomes more commonplace, WhatsApp remains one of the most popular, but Signal and Telegram are starting to catch up by gaining new users.
According to the Associated Press, Signal saw 17.8 million app downloads on Apple and Google devices the first full week of January, a 61-fold increase from the week prior. Telegram, already heavily in use around the world, had 15.7 million downloads from the Apple and Google Play stores over the same time period, roughly twice the 7.6 million downloads it saw the previous week.
The WhatsApp communications app on a smartphone, in New York. (Patrick Sison/)
The mass downloads are believed to be linked to Facebook and Twitter cracking down on Qanon-related and other misinformation accounts as well as Parler being booted from Apple, Google and Amazon Web Services.
Despite the recent swings in downloads, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, still towers over the other two apps with 5.6 billion installs since 2014, when Signal (58.6 million installs) debuted. In that same period Telegram has seen about 755.2 million installations.