It seems like Facebook is hell-bent on giving you reasons to stop using its services.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was just the start. As reported by Recode, we know now how easy it is for third parties to get access to your personal data—and Facebook Messenger is a huge privacy risk because your chats are supposed to be private.
But Facebook Messenger is anything but. As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook has been caught slyly uploading users’ contact books in the background. The Messenger app is now plagued with ads and Facebook just can’t seem to stop pushing its Messenger Day feature down the throats of users. The real kicker? Messenger chats are not end-to-end encrypted and Facebook is monitoring your conversations.
If you’re frustrated by all the recent changes to Facebook Messenger, you should switch to another platform that’s more secure and convince your friends and family to follow suit. In this article, we discuss the best alternatives to Facebook Messenger for making that switch.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
SIGNAL – PRIVATE MESSENGER is a free messaging app that lets users make free and secure local and international audio and/or video internet phone calls and enjoy free, secure texting. The app takes only a minute to download and even less time to set up. It draws only upon your existing cell phone contact list but enables you to invite friends via text. On Android devices, only you can send messages to people not using the app, though those messages aren’t as secure. Though it uses cell numbers as contacts, connections are actually made over data connections, so devices need internet access. Because of end-to-end encryption and the fact that the developers don’t store any personal data, communications are secure.
Signal is an open-source messaging service available on Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Signal is developed by Open Whisper Systems. The best thing about Signal, privacy-wise, is that Signal’s backend code is also open source and verifiable. A lot of secure messaging services these days only open source the frontend application code (“client-side”) while keeping the backend platform itself proprietary (“server-side”).
That’s not the case with Signal. This might seem like a small thing but this layer of transparency adds more confidence and trust to the system. It’s one of the reasons why Edward Snowden has endorsed Signal. And, like him or loathe him, there’s a guy who knows a thing or two about privacy.
Talking about the application itself, you’ll find all the features you look for in a simple messaging service. You can text, make voice calls, send pictures and videos, share documents, create group chat, and so on.
Signal is extremely simple to use. You sign up using your phone number and a one time password that’s sent to you via SMS. You give your name and that’s it. There’s no email address and no password to worry about. Signal will ask your permission to look up your contacts. But don’t worry, the details aren’t sent to Signal’s servers.
Telegram is one of the best alternatives to Facebook Messenger because it has all the features and characteristics of Facebook Messenger, minus the bad stuff. Telegram is available on every major platform including iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux Web and even Windows Phone. The app’s UI is barebones and simple to use.
When you’re looking for secure and private alternatives to popular messaging clients, Telegram is usually one of the first options to pop up. While Telegram is open source, it’s only the client side code that’s available to the public. Server side code is all proprietary. If Telegram says that it has strong encryption and it won’t save your messages on its servers, you’ll just have to take the company’s word for it.
Telegram is criticized by security experts because it doesn’t enable end-to-end encryption by default. For this, you need to enable Secret Chat with every person you’re talking to. By default, Telegram works just like every other messaging service: keeping your messages on its servers where it has access to all your data.
So why is Telegram on this list? Because it’s way better than Facebook Messenger. There are no annoying ads, no annoying stories feature. Another refreshing thing about Telegram is that, unlike Facebook, Telegram’s bots are actually useful. And because Telegram is so popular, you’ll probably find that your friends are already using Telegram. If not, it will be relatively easy to convince them to jump ship.
Download: Telegram for Android | iOS (Free)
WhatsApp has become the most popular instant messaging app, connecting more than a billion people worldwide. These people, who most probably include you and me, can share instant messages and multimedia files for free, and more interestingly, can talk for free unlimited. The app works on nearly all smartphone models and is also available for computers, and works on Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G networks.
- It allows free phone calls to any WhatsApp user.
- It uses your mobile number to identify you, so no need to register.
- Free SMS and MMS to other WhatsApp users.
- Group text messaging.
- Works on most smartphone models.
- Most popular IM app around with more than a billion users
- No video calls allowed.
- Limited options with the instant messaging
- Limited options with document sharing
And there are two big reasons WhatsApp makes for a solid alternative to Facebook. Firstly, WhatsApp supports end-to-end AES 256-bit encryption by default. As long as you (and the person you’re talking to) are running the latest version of WhatsApp, your chats are encrypted.
WhatsApp states its position on encryption clearly in the WhatsApp FAQs:
“WhatsApp has no ability to see the content of messages or listen to calls on WhatsApp. That’s because the encryption and decryption of messages sent on WhatsApp occurs entirely on your device. Before a message ever leaves your phone, it is secured with a cryptographic lock, and only the recipient has the keys. In addition, the keys change with every single message that is sent. While all of this happens behind the scenes, you can confirm your conversations are protected by checking the security verification code on your device.”
Keeping Your Personal Privacy in Check
So, there we have it, five alternatives to Facebook Messenger for those of you who value your privacy. Having looked at the alternatives you may decide to stick with Messenger. Which is your call. But there are some solid alternatives out there for those who want to switch.