It's only just getting started, but 2021 feels like it will be a crucial year for social apps. The world's most popular app, WhatsApp, just announced changes to its privacy policy that will increase Facebook's powers to use your data. Meanwhile, one of the world's most controversial apps, Parler, was unceremoniously dumped from the internet this week. Unsurprisingly, this is great news for rival chat app Telegram.

According to founder and CEO Pavel Durov, Telegram gained 25 million new users in the last 72 hours as it smashed past the 500 million active monthly user mark. For comparison, the app averaged around 1.5 million new users per day in 2020, which was impressive enough already. Durvov says that this is down to his company's simple privacy and security promise, above all else.

The bulk of the new users are coming from Asia (38%), Europe (27%), and Latin America (21%), with around 8% signing up from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). Although not explicitly noted in Durov's post, there is likely a good number of Parler orphans joining Telegram — although there are differences between the functions of the two apps, there's talk that former Parler users are heading to encrypted messaging apps in search of a more private platform. Signal has seen a similar rise in popularity for the same reason.

Telegram recently outlined its plans for earning revenue but promised user privacy won't be compromised. Ads will be utilized only in one-to-many channels and paid premium features will be aimed at businesses and power users. Everything you currently use for free will remain free. There was a small controversy earlier this month when it turned out the app's nearby feature could be used to find out the exact location of a user rather than an approximate one, but this comes with the territory of an opt-in location sharing feature — use at your own risk.