ANKARA: Turkey has launched a domestic messaging app to rival Facebook´s popular WhatsApp Messenger service.
The app, called PttMessenger after Turkey´s Post and Telegraph General Directorate (PTT), was introduced in a limited roll-out to state institutions and some private companies this week.
It is expected to be publicly available in six months.
PttMessenger will provide a “system safer than WhatsApp”, government spokesman Bekir Bozdag told a news conference.
“Since no data is stored with the host, it will be impossible to access these data. A system safer than WhatsApp has been developed.”
Critics cast doubt on the suggestion PttMessenger data could not be retrievd, fearing it will give authorities greater ability to monitor dissent, pointing to the widespread crackdown that was launched after a failed military coup in July 2016.
They cite concerns that PttMessenger might eventally become mandatory downloads for devices used by these institutions, and eventually for the personal electronic devices of employees.
An estimated 40 percent of the Turkish population were active WhatsApp users as of December 2016, according to research firm Statista.
That was more than double the United States, at 18 percent, but behind several other emerging markets, including Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.