Online users leave traditional social media for encrypted apps

Law enforcement is concerned with the new trend of ditching Twitter and Facebook for more encrypted apps where people can post messages of hate and threats of violence with more privacy.
3:46 | 01/17/21

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Transcript for Online users leave traditional social media for encrypted apps
with the sudden surge in popularity of apps you may never have heard of. Privacy concerns are leading people to ditch Twitter and Facebook and seek out encrypted messaging services which have also attracted far right elements kicked off of traditional social media. This is a trend that is worrying law enforcement, and ABC's Matt Gutman is in Washington with much more on this. Matt, good morning to you. Reporter: Hey, good morning, Dan. What is so worrying to law enforcement about these encrypted apps is that it makes tracking potentially violent groups incredibly difficult, and because these encrypted apps don't have any censorship, or any moderators, the hatred and racism I've seen in some of these group chats that have thousands and thousands of members is terrifying. Seemingly overnight, apps like signal and telegram exploding in popularity. In the weeks since the January 6th assault on the capitol, amassing tens of millions of new users. That new user bonanza is partly a result of the fallout of January 6th. After the assault on the capitol platforms like Facebook and Twitter booting far right users. Parler, a refuge for many in the radical right, kicked off the internet completely. Elon Musk recently tweeting his blunt endorsement of these encrypted apps. Use signal. The proud boys telling us they have decamped mostly to telegram. The thing about telegram is it seems there's no censoring. Anyone can say anything they We started using telegram to communicate and start group messages and telegram has started doing channels. I started bringing those people in. Tommie Robinson, milo yiannopoulos, and Roger stone. Then from there, obviously everybody sees it. They get banned on social media. They're already following milo on it and they start their own channels. So we've kind of created this little ecosystem within telegram. Reporter: An unfiltered ecosystem which ABC news has accessed and it is brimming with racism, sexism and anti-semitism. They have now over 500 million users. But the move to the encrypted apps can make the job of law enforcement much more difficult. It's beyond the mass. Encrypted communications have been a big thorn in the side of law enforcement for several years because terrorist organizations switch to not exclusively, but to a certain extent to encrypted apps years ago, and if you don't have the information, you can't stop it. Reporter: Telegram is currently the number two downloaded free app behind tiktok in apple's app store, and privacy is the name of the game. Facebook messenger, Twitter, things of that nature are not encrypted so things like that can be used in court and things of that nature. They can leak. It's very easy for the companies to look at it if they need it for any reason. Both signal and telegram are into an encryption. Reporter: These messaging apps also offer encrypted security which can be used in large group chats and channels for unlimited audiences. People might enjoy these apps because their privacy is important. People joke all the time about how I can say I'm craving a pizza or I want these shoes, and then you see an ad on Facebook, on Instagram and Twitter almost immediately after. That can be kind of jarring and alarming. Reporter: Now these encrypted apps have become incredibly popular, and essential in authoritarian countries. Excuse me, allowing people to communicate more freely, but again going back to law enforcement for a moment, that freedom to communicate makes connecting potentially violent groups to the very real people behind those threats incredibly challenging. Eva? And law enforcement are doing the best they can to look at those threats right now. Thank you, Matt Gutman.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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