Messaging app Telegram gained a “record” 70 million new users on Monday, as Facebook experienced a nearly six-hour long outage across its services, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov announced. Encrypted messaging app Signal also reported gaining “millions” of new users on the same day. Both apps compete mainly with Facebook’s WhatsApp, although the outage also took down Facebook Messenger, and left users unable to send messages on Instagram.
Although Durov claimed that Telegram “continued to work flawlessly” in the face of its “unprecedented growth,” he admitted that “some users in the Americas may have experienced slower speed than usual as millions of users from these continents rushed to sign up for Telegram at the same time.” Signal users were also experiencing issues where they weren’t able to see all of their contacts.
“For the new users I’d like to say this – welcome to Telegram, the largest independent messaging platform,” Durov wrote. “We won’t fail you when others will.” Telegram has long courted WhatsApp’s 2 billion users, and earlier this year added the ability to import WhatsApp chat histories in a move designed to help users switch from the Facebook-owned messaging service. Over the course of this year it’s also added other feature focused on video calling and live streaming, although it still doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default unlike Signal and WhatsApp.
“Facebook-owned Whatsapp being down is a reminder that you and your friends should probably be using a more private, non-profit alternative like @Signalapp anyway,” wrote whistleblower Edward Snowden during the outage, “It’s just as free, and takes like 30 seconds to switch.” Snowden has long been a proponent of Signal, and said in 2015 that he used it every day.