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How a Reddit user played Indians to move them from WhatsApp to Signal

'A poor villager's son from Uttar Pradesh who passed from IIT with a gold medal had created an app called Signal,' the user posted to inspire 'Proud Indian feeling sentiment'

Signal is at the top downloads on Apple Store and Google Play platforms in several countries after WhatsApp asked its some two billion users on January 7 to accept new terms that will allow it to share more information with Facebook. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (AFP)

By Omkar Khandekar

LAST UPDATED 11.01.2021  |  07:01 PM IST

Earlier this month, messaging platform WhatsApp amended its privacy policy, asking its users to accept new conditions that will allow the Facebook-owned entity to share their information with its family of companies. Since then, there has been a surge of calls by Indian users of the app to migrate to other, more secure, messaging apps. According to reports, India is WhatsApp's biggest market with an estimated 400 million users.

Signal, an open-source encrypted app, has emerged as one of the most preferred alternatives to WhatsApp. Signal also seems to have noticed the exponential interest from India, making it to the top of the charts among free apps on Apple App Store.

For advocates of Signal, this wasn’t enough, though. On Sunday, a user on the social media platform Reddit who goes by "i_killed_reddit" found a hack to get the app an even wider reach.

“We need as many Indians to download Signal as possible,” the user wrote on 'r/india', the official sub-reddit for India. “The only way Indian Unkills [referring to "uncles"] will start using it is if there is a tadka of Proud Indian feeling sentiment.”

In order to achieve his goal, the user proposed sending out the following message widely.

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A screenshot of a Reddit post imitating a WhatsApp fake news forward. (Photo: Reddit.com)

None of the claims in this post is true. Signal is developed by Signal Foundation, founded by American entrepreneurs Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton. NASA and UNESCO did not give it any awards to it, and Signal certainly did not use Sanskrit code.

Further, the post was titled ‘ULPT- WhatsApp Forwards for all Unkills to download Signal’. ULPT, in Reddit-speak, means an ‘Unethical Life Pro Tip’.

Some Reddit users recognised the satire and laughed it off. But others went a step further and said they circulated the text on their family WhatsApp groups. One user even translated the original into Hindi for further dissemination. “It's dishonest as hell, but it is for a good cause,” another wrote.

Reddit has since removed the post citing concerns over "misinformation". But earlier today, author and journalist Meghnad S shared on Twitter a screenshot of a text he had received on WhatsApp.

While Meghnad was in on the joke, it’s likely that some "unkills" have fallen for it. At the time of publishing this story, Signal still remains on the top of the Apple Store list.

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    11.01.2021 | 05:11 PM IST
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