Demand surges for Signal and Telegram messaging apps in the country following WhatsApp's new data sharing policy that has ignited privacy concerns. Meanwhile, Turkish Presidency and Defense Ministry have moved their accounts to BiP, a Turkish app.

Globally, new installs of WhatsApp fell 11 percent in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week.
Globally, new installs of WhatsApp fell 11 percent in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week. (Reuters)

Turkish users are taking a quick flight from messaging app WhatsApp to other alternatives, new data suggests, even as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's media office and Defence Ministry have also left WhatsApp over new data sharing policy that has ignited privacy concerns. 

The presidency and Defence Ministry will move its WhatsApp groups to BiP, an app by Turkish mobile network giant Turkcell on January 11, Bloomberg reported on Sunday. 

After the popular messaging app WhatsApp forced many users to agree to new privacy rules, users are seeking alternatives for their smartphones.

With the changes, Telegram messenger has become the most downloaded messaging app in Apple's App Store in Turkey, Anadolu Agency has learned.

In second place is Signal, an app recommended by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, followed by WhatsApp itself, and BiP, an app by Turkish mobile network giant Turkcell.

For Android users, Telegram was first in the Play Store, followed by WhatsApp and BiP.

BiP gained over 1.12 million users in just 24 hours, boasting over 53 million users worldwide, according to data shared by Turkcell.

#WatsAPPsiliyoruz

Turkish users took to social media to denounce Whatsapp's new data policy and were trending #WatsAPPsiliyoruz (We're deleting Whatsapp). 

Turkish drone maker Baykar Chief Executive Haluk Bayraktar who has a huge fan base on Twitter said he was leaving Whatsapp "because the company was imposing on users its controversial privacy agreement on personal data."

Bayraktar suggested users install BiP app instead. 

"Developed by Turkish engineers, it has a user-friendly interface. #BİP will always be installed on my phone," he said.

WhatsApp installs fall

Last week, WhatsApp sent its updated privacy policy to its users.

The changes include sharing personal data, such as account information, messages, and location information with Facebook companies. 

It said the app could not be used unless the terms are not accepted.

New installs of WhatsApp fell 11 percent in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week, but that still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.

READ MORE: WhatsApp to share data with Facebook in new ultimatum to users

Double standard?

Following a backlash, WhatsApp announced that users in the 'Europe region" will not be affected by the update, as their data would not be shared with Facebook companies.

But according to the app's website, the region in question only includes EU countries, effectively forcing users in Turkey to approve the conditions to continue using the app.

Some have decried the app's double standard, saying WhatsApp fears penalties from EU countries under data security rules.

Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform, even sell them products directly using the service as they already do in India.

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READ MORE: Telegram to start generating revenue with pay-for services next year

Source: TRTWorld and agencies