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Zuckerberg claims Whatsapp worth more than $19bn while users migrate to rival platforms

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the $19 billion (£11 billion) acquisition of messaging app Whatsapp was a bargain, despite users switching to rival services due to privacy concerns.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona yesterday, Zuckerberg argued that the app's massive userbase will eventually make the acquisition "highly profitable".

"I actually just think that by itself it's worth more than $19 billion," he said. "It's hard to exactly make that case today because they have so little revenue compared to that number.

"But the reality is that there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world and they are all incredibly valuable – much more valuable than that."

Zuckerberg's claims come at a time when millions of users are migrating away from Whatsapp following an outage that downed the messaging service shortly after Facebook's acquisition.

Related: Why did Facebook pay $19 billion for Whatsapp? (opens in new tab)

Around the same time a German watchdog also suggested that users delete Whatsapp after Facebook's acquisition due to privacy concerns, encouraging yet more to switch messaging services.

"(Facebook and WhatsApp) refuse to comply with European and German data protection regulations," said Thilo Weichert of data privacy watchdog ULD. "Even the NSA access to communications data is facilitated by the purchase."

One of the most popular alternatives to Whatsapp has proved to be Telegram, a cross-platform messaging service that offers users end-to-end encryption when sending and receiving messages.

As a result of these comments and the outage, nearly five million new users joined Telegram in a single 24-hour period.

Zuckerberg's interest in rival messaging app SnapChat - reportedly targeted by Facebook in a $3 billion (£1.8 billion) takeover bid last year – has waned since taking over Whatsapp. He stated at MWC that in terms of acquisitions Facebook "was probably done for a while".