Among the alternatives to WhatsApp, along with Telegram, one of the options with the best acceptance is Signal.
The growing instant messaging application was blocked in mainland China. The chats no longer work and the app’s website is inaccessible from those latitudes.
Signal, new victim of Chinese censorship
Within the spectrum of social media and messaging services, one of the few Western alternatives available in China was Signal, until very recently.
Signal’s disappearance from Apple’s Chinese App Store was not immediate. After the blockade became official last Tuesday, according to what was recorded by the censorship tracking website Greatfire.org on its Twitter account, Apple did not receive an order from the government to eliminate the application, which has gradually gained followers among users. concerned about privacy in China.
As for the Android landscape, app stores in China are run by a number of third-party Chinese tech firms, who tend to strictly comply with local censors and don’t consider Signal among their options. Google Play does not work in the Asian giant.
The censorship came just as Signal’s heyday in China. The iOS version of Signal has been installed about 510 thousand times to date in China, according to the figures from its App Store, which in its Chinese version shows an evaluation of 4.9 out of 5, based on 37 thousand evaluations. In addition, Signal recently crossed the threshold of 100 million downloads in the Apple App Store and Google Play combined globally.
Until January, the accumulated downloads by Signal in China reached 458 thousand, being surpassed by the 2.7 million users who installed Telegram.
The increase in users came after the scandal with the updated WhatsApp policies, which generated a great stir and confusion at that time. Since then, the interest in digital privacy broadened its scope and more people became concerned with safeguarding their data online.
China has a kind of great firewall, which acts as a great digital filter for communications both externally and abroad. This has motivated the interest of several Chinese citizens to circumvent these controls and Signal, by offering encrypted communications, became a threat to this model.
In China, a local alternative to Western services and platforms is always on hand. As for Signal, it is not known if the blockade is temporary or temporary; although judging by its growing popularity and because it is a messaging application, this situation could not be reversed, as the app can be replaced by other alternatives. So far, the most popular option there is WeChat, with 1.1 billion monthly users.