Not only top dog Whatsapp: three largest messengers belong to Facebook

Just like SMS, messenger services have taken German cell phones by storm. A new survey shows which services are popular alongside Whatsapp – and reveals a striking concentration in the market.

According to a representative survey, Germans are increasingly using online communication services. 83 percent use the so-called OTT offers, which are provided via the open internet, regularly and in particular with the help of smartphones, as the Federal Network Agency announced. "We also find that the three most popular services, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, are all part of the Facebook group," said head of agency Jochen Homann.

According to this, Whatsapp is used most frequently with 96 percent, followed by Facebook Messenger (42 percent), Instagram (30 percent), Skype (18 percent), Snapchat (12 percent), Telegram (10 percent), FaceTime (9 percent) and iMessage (8 percent). The services Google Messages, Threema and Signal only have 4 percent each. Messenger is particularly popular with younger age groups, 98 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds use it. The services are mainly used in the private sector, the Germans are much more reserved at work. While 95 percent of the respondents regularly send text and picture messages, only 48 percent regularly use the Internet telephony function.

In doing so, the researchers observe that electronic communication in no way supersedes traditional telephony. Mobile telephony (75 percent) and landline (59 percent) are still more popular than the corresponding messenger offers (22 percent). 61 percent of the users surveyed stated that they basically communicate more with OTT services than before. For the study, the Federal Network Agency together with the opinion research institute Info GmbH surveyed 2,210 people nationwide at the end of 2019.

Again and again criticism of the top dogs

Whatsapp is repeatedly criticized by data protectionists – most recently by the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Ulrich Kelber. The federal authorities had warned against using the messenger. In a letter to all federal ministries and authorities, Kelber had made it clear that the use of Whatsapp for a federal authority was excluded. "Just sending messages always delivers metadata to Whatsapp," says the data protection officer. And it can be assumed that these would then be immediately passed on to Facebook.

This in turn denied representatives of the service on Monday. A spokesman for the messenger service told the "Handelsblatt" that Whatsapp did not pass on user data in order to enable targeted advertising on Facebook, for example. "Whatsapp cannot read messages because they are encrypted throughout by default," said the spokesman. Only people who send messages to each other could read them.

. (tagsToTranslate) Technology (t) Messenger (t) WhatsApp (t) Facebook (t) Bundesnetzagentur