Facebook is often seen as an untouchable behemoth in the social media realm, a site so big that no competitor can come close. But if you trust Pavel Durov, the founder of messaging app Telegram, even a simple stumble from Facebook like a few hours of outage can have pretty serious consequences for its user base.
On Thursday, shortly after Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp came back online, Durov said on his Telegram channel (via TechCrunch) that “3 million users signed up for Telegram within the last 24 hours.”
The figure is notable even for Facebook, which boasts more than 2.3 billion monthly active users. Durov never directly ties the Facebook/Instagram outage with the influx of users to Telegram, but he does throw a jab at Facebook by saying that Telegram has “true privacy and unlimited space for everyone.”
Telegram is a very different app from Facebook and Instagram; its closest competitor is Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp, which also suffered from the outage on Wednesday and Thursday.
Durov left his first project, the social media site Vkontakte (an immensely popular Russian Facebook clone), after hinting that he hadn’t been able to keep his customers’ data private from the Russian authorities. Shortly after that, he left Russia altogether and started privacy-focused Telegram, which had more than 200 million active users in March 2018. Durov often publicly calls out his competitors, including WhatsApp, for not doing enough to protect their users’ privacy.
You got it backwards. In 5+ years, Telegram disclosed exactly zero bytes of private data to third-parties including governments. That’s why Telegram is banned by authoritarian governments such as Russia and Iran. Other apps such as WhatsApp have no issues with there.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) March 9, 2019
Telegram made headlines in January 2018 when a leaked document detailed the company’s plans to launch a massive initial coin offering (ICO), to the tune of $1.2 billion. But after reportedly having secured $1.7 billion in private funding, the company called off the public token sale.
As for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, all appear to be working normally now, though perhaps with a small portion of users checking out the grass on the other side of the fence.