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3 in 4 Indians reconsidering their WhatsApp usage: Report

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'WhatsApp messages can be traced without diluting end-to-end encryption'Gurugram, Jan 29 (IANS): As the Indian government asks WhatsApp to withdraw, not defer, the new user data privacy policy, a new nationwide study revealed on Friday that 79 per cent of consumers among those surveyed are re-considering their WhatsApp usage.

While an overwhelming 79 per cent are reconsidering using WhatsApp, 28 per cent of those even plan to leave WhatsApp after implementation of its new policy in May 2021, according to new research by CyberMedia Research (CMR), a Gurugram-based market research firm.

As per the results, 41 per cent of those surveyed indicated planning to shift to Telegram, whereas 35 per cent preferred Signal.

“The current debate goes much beyond privacy-oriented consumers, with some even contemplating stopping their WhatsApp usage, and considering alternatives, such as Telegram or Signal,” said Satya Mohanty, Head- Industry Consulting Group (ICG), CMR.

“Consumer preference is being driven by word of mouth, as well as by the array of features the platform offers,” he added.

In the aftermath of its new “take it or leave it” policy announcement, WhatsApp is losing mindshare as well as potentially future user share.

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In its strongly worded letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT has slammed the platform’s “all or nothing” approach. The letter noted that the proposed changes to the privacy policy raise “grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens”.

The matter is also under discussion at the Delhi High Court.

The study noted that among the contenders, Telegram is gaining traction over Signal in terms of current awareness and potential usage.

Consumers described a range of emotions ranging from feeling angry (49 per cent), to not trusting WhatsApp ever again (45 per cent), to feeling a breach of trust (35 per cent).

A mere 10 per cent of consumers remain indifferent to the new policy announcement.

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“For consumers, WhatsApp was their own, free and intimate messaging platform. As WhatsApp eventually moves into a much closer integration with the Facebook ecosystem from hereon, it risks an erosion in brand trust and brand loyalty – both key determinants for enduring competitive market advantage,” explained Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR.

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Telegram scores over Signal in terms of awareness (55 per cent) and actual usage (39 per cent).

Over the past one year, 37 per cent of users have actually used Telegram, compared to a mere 10 per cent for Signal, a rather nascent messaging app that is enjoying a spike in downloads in recent days, the findings showed.

Majority of users on WhatsApp and FB Messenger do not feel convenient and safe while storing their chat backup on third party or non-end-to-end encrypted platforms such as Google Drive or iCloud.

Among the alternatives, Telegram users retain high trust in the dedicated cloud that Telegram offers (49 per cent), noted the CMR ‘Social Safe study’ based on an extensive primary consumer survey covering 1,500 consumers in top eight cities of India.

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