Days after Facebook-owned Whatsapp updated its privacy policy to what was interpreted by many to mean that the chat app will be sharing data with its mother company, the exodus continues.

In many countries around the world, including here in South Africa, apps that emphasize on privacy have seen incredible amounts of downloads.

The biggest beneficiaries are Telegram and Signal.

Telegram has been on the scene for years, and is now only getting renewed attention. In a statement, Telegram founder Pavel Durov revealed that the app had now surpassed 500 million monthly users, with 25 million new users joining in just the last 72 hours.

Here’s part of the statement.

In the first week of January, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. After that it kept growing: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone. These new users came from across the globe – 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America and 8% from MENA.

This is a significant increase compared to last year, when 1.5M new users signed up every day. We’ve had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy. But this time is different.

People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services. They no longer want to be held hostage by tech monopolies that seem to think they can get away with anything as long as their apps have a critical mass of users.

With half a billion active users and accelerating growth, Telegram has become the largest refuge for those seeking a communication platform committed to privacy and security. We take this responsibility very seriously. We won’t let you down.

In South Africa, Telegram has topped the Google Play store as well as the App store charts. Signal comes second, and it has been like this for 3 days in a row so far. Whatsapp has dropped to number 7 on Android and 4 on iPhones, a reversal from just a week ago when it topped all charts.

On January 1, Telegram was not even top 50 and Signal did not even appear in top 100.

While they have not released their figures, Signal is also believed to be bringing in tens of millions of new users. It owes its latest success to a large part due to an endorsement from Elon Musk.

The newly-crowned richest man in the world, who also comes with a very influential Twitter account with over 42 million followers urged everyone to ‘Use Signal’ once news of Whatsapp privacy update broke.

Just to show how much of an influence Elon wields, his tweet sent the stock price of an unrelated medical devise company called ‘Signal Advances’ soaring nearly 12,000%.

Before his tweet on Thursday, the stock of the company was trading at $0.60. On Monday, the stock price had peaked at $70.85.

In the process the market cap of the company went from $6 million to $300 million overnight.