The best WhatsApp alternatives are more important than ever now that the messaging giant’s Facebook overlord has seen fit to overhaul its terms of service. Whereas many people once turned to the app for its supposed privacy, WhatsApp now requires you to share data with Facebook and its partners, including Facebook Payments, Onavo, and CrowdTangle. If you’d rather not have Facebook dealing out your phone number, contacts, apps log, status messages, IP address, profile picture, and name, your best bet is to check out some other messaging apps that haven’t yet gone over to the dark side.
Telegram is supported by all major platforms, and it is perhaps the next most popular open-source messenger besides WhatsApp. There’s no video calling ability, but you can text across platforms simultaneously and make clear voice calls with ease. Available are groups with up to 200,000 people, robust file-sharing abilities, self-erasing messages, and the proprietary end-to-end encryption you want to keep your privacy intact. Telegram is free.
If you can’t give up encrypted video calls, you’ll want to check out Signal. It employs open-source encryption for your texts, voice calls, and video calls, allowing you to communicate exactly how you’d like. No animated emojis here, but even the stickers are encrypted. Share GIFs, videos, and photos easily with the intuitive design. Signal works across all major platforms and includes group chats for up to 150 members. Signal is free.
Threema is a paid messaging service that promises privacy above all else. Open-source end-to-end encryption protects messages and calls, and you don’t even need to link a phone number or email to your account. Threema takes no user data and hosts its servers in its native Switzerland. Send text and voice messages, make video calls, create groups with up to 100 people, and share media. Use the app on Android or iOS, as well as in a browser.
Element offers free and paid versions of its messaging service, compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and major browsers. Your messages are saved where you want them to be saved, and end-to-end encryption protects voice, video, and text. The free version allows multiple devices and as much messaging and calling (including video) as you want, while Standard and Pro versions give you more control and management over large groups.
Leaving WhatsApp for good
Any of the above messaging apps will make a great WhatsApp alternative, but if we’re suggesting just one, we’ll go with Telegram. Many of us use it to communicate securely and efficiently, and as long as you don’t rely on secure video chat — for which Signal is much better suited — you should find everything else you need included in the free package. Create enormous groups with up to 200,000 people, share all the files you want, react with animated emojis and gifs, and remain assured your data is protected thanks to secure end-to-end encryption.
There is an official Telegram Windows 10 app, but you can also check out Unigram. What many consider as the best Telegram client got its biggest update yet about a half-year ago and is still relevant today.
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