Unarguably WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service in the internet era, but since Facebook acquired the service there have been numerous questions concerning privacy on the platform.
Although Whatsapp introduced end-to-end encryption for text messages on their platform and two-step verification for users, those who still feel uncomfortable using the service have several alternatives.
Privacy on the web is of paramount importance as you might be sharing more information than you think you are.
Here we’re going to talk about three alternatives to WhatsApp that can be downloaded for free on either Android or iOS.
Endorsed by the likes of whistleblower Edward Snowden, Signal is a great messaging service if you’re looking for privacy in your conversations.
The app not only allows you to send text messages which are end-to-end encrypted, users can also make encrypted calls worldwide (for free), create encrypted groups and send files as an attachment to your message.
Like WhatsApp, you don’t need a login ID or password to sign up with Signal, your phone number will suffice.
It’s the only messaging service that uses open source peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols and being open-source, anyone can verify its security by checking out the code.
Open Whisper Systems, the app’s developers, maintain that their servers never have access to any of the user communications and doesn’t store any data including the name, member list or icon of your group chats.
“Privacy is possible, Signal makes it easy,” reads the app’s tagline on Play Store. The app developers have wittingly included the word ‘thoughtcrime’ in its Play Store URL, a reference for those aware of the idea of an Orwellian future.
One of the most popular messaging service among activists, journalists and other professionals, Wickr includes end-to-end encryption for text messages, videos, pictures and voice messages.
You don’t even need to provide an email address or your phone number — both being optional, in order to make it easier for your friends to discover you — to sign up with the app, just input your desired Wickr ID and password to launch the app.
It includes multiple tools like shredder, which removes all the deleted messages, images and other data from your device — making your deleted items unrecoverable; a timer, which deletes your message after the set amount of time.
The timer makes your messages self-destruct depending on your chosen time which ranges from three seconds to six days — the message will be erased from the recipient’s device.
The app also has screenshot protection so no one will be able to save screenshots of your self-destructing messages while they are available.
The company removes all metadata such as geotags or other identifying information from your messages and attachments and the app runs ad-free.
The app doesn’t store your contact list on its servers and lets you make group chats with up to 10 members.
Dropbox, Google Drive and other such integrations are available on the app, allowing you to directly share media from your cloud storage.
With their 4,096-bit RSA encryption — a highly secure one — a user’s Wickr ID is anonymous to anyone outside their network and even to the app developers. None of the conversations on this platform can be tracked, intercepted or monitored.
Wickr Inc., the app’s developers, claim that they can not read any messages sent through their app and do not collect or store your personal images, messages and attachments.
Another WhatsApp alternative, which is also the best-known one among these three and arguably has the highest number of users on their platform among these three.
Telegram has a ‘Secret Chat’ tool, which like Wickr, gives an option to enable the self-destruct feature on messages, photos, videos and files — deleting them from the recipient device as well as user’s device. Secret chats aren’t stored on Telegram’s servers too.
Everything on the app is encrypted using a combination of ‘256-bit symmetric AES encryption, 2048-bit RSA encryption, and Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange’.
Like WhatsApp, a desktop client is also available for Telegram, which is as easy to use. The service also maintains that they don’t give any third party access to user data, but they do store some of it on their servers.
The aforementioned apps in the list aren’t ranked in any particular order, and the two we’re going to mention below weren’t included in the list since one of them is a paid app and another has in-app purchases — making both of them paid alternatives of WhatsApp.
Still, if you’re ready to spend some bucks and try them out for yourself then you should check out Threema and Confide in the app store — both of which claim a high level of encryption for your conversations.
Let us know in the comments below what you think about privacy on chat or if you know any other great messaging services which offer privacy like the ones mentioned here.
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