Most users of WhatsApp are reconsidering usage of the instant mobile messaging app and are looking for its alternative following policy changes proposed by the Facebook group firm, according to a study.
The study, conducted by CyberMedia Research (CMR) covering 1,500 WhatsApp users, found that 79 per cent of the instant messaging app users (respondents) are reconsidering using it, with 28 per cent of those even planning to leave WhatsApp after the implementation of its new policy in May 2021.
"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," CMR Industry Intelligence Group Head Prabhu Ram said in a statement.
It also stated that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, 2021, in order to continue using WhatsApp.
In response to WhatsApp's 'take it or leave it policy', consumers ascribed 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," the study said.
Among the respondents, 39 per cent were already using instant messaging app Telegram.
As per the study results, 41 per cent of those surveyed indicated planning to shift to Telegram, whereas 35 per cent preferred Signal.
Telegram scored over Signal in terms of awareness (55 per cent) and actual usage (39 per cent), the study said.
Over the past one year, 37 per cent of users were found to have actually used Telegram, compared to a mere 10 per cent for Signal.
"Our research points out that Telegram, in particular, has gained traction amongst users over the past year, much before the recent WhatsApp PR fiasco.
"While Signal has enjoyed a recent burst in its popularity, it has not been able to scale swiftly enough, and users have faced challenges with it," Ram said.
Almost 50 per cent of those surveyed have received suspicious messages from unknown numbers, with potential phishing, malicious links.
"The occurrence of phishing is high amongst WhatsApp users (52 per cent), and lowest amongst Telegram users (28 per cent)," the study said.