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WhatsApp Alternatives that allow more Privacy

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WhatsApp is one of the most popular online chats in the world. The app garnered over 1.9 billion users in 2018, and 60 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp every day. However, one major downside to the platform is privacy. The company that owns WhatsApp is Facebook, and their privacy reputation has been controversial. The platform has also faced controversial updates, which in turn have been under fire for violating user privacy. In this article, we will discuss potential alternatives that you can use that provide the same usability as WhatsApp, but with better privacy.

WhatsApp Alternatives

  1. Signal:
    1. One WhatsApp alternative that has better privacy is Signal, which shares many features that WhatsApp has.
      1. Just like WhatsApp, Signal is completely free. This means that you won’t have to shell out extra money just to get the same service that you got with WhatsApp for free.
      2. Signal works on all platforms, which means that you can use the app if you have an iPhone, android or other smartphone device (similar to WhatsApp).
      3. Signal has strong end-to-end encryption, which renders messages unreadable to hackers and other people that want your information.
      4. Signal ensures that little meta data is generated during messaging. The fewer data a service provider collects, the fewer data it can hand out upon a court request.
      5. Signal’s program code is open source, which means that anybody can view and check it for vulnerabilities (which in turn is used to make sure the program is up-to-date and has no potential weaknesses that could plague users and their data).
    2. There are some negatives that come with the application that you should look out for.
      1. Signal requires a phone number to register. If you don’t have a phone number, you will have to find a workaround to use the app.
      2. Other people can see that you are using Signal at a given time (if phone number is known). If you don’t people to see when your online, this might not be the best application for you.
      3. Hosted on AWS, which could lead to the program having some technology limitations at times.
  2. Another alternative to WhatsApp is Threema:
    1. Threema contains numerous advantages, some of which are not included in Signal:
      1. Just like Signal, Threema has end-to-end encryption, making sure that all of your data is safe.
      2. Threema is open source just like Signal, so people can see the source code of the application and identify potential weaknesses that have to be solved.
      3. Threema collects almost no meta data (even less than Signal).
      4. No phone number is required to set up a Threema account, unlike Signal.
      5. Threema is available on all clients
      6. Unlike Signal which is hosted on AWS (giving limitations), Threema is hosted on their own server, allowing for more flexibility and customizability.
    2. Threema contains a few downsides similar to other WhatsApp alternatives:
      1. Threema isn’t free, but it thankfully comes at a low price. However, if you are on a tight budget, you might want to look elsewhere.
      2. Threema has a small user base, so many people might not have the application installed on their device. You will likely have to make the person download/purchase the application, which can be a hindrance at times.
  3. Wickr
    1. Similar to all of the other applications on our list, Wickr was founded with the purpose of privacy and security. There are numerous perks that come with using the program:
      1. The program is free just like WhatsApp and Signal.
      2. No phone number is required (just like Threema).
      3. End-to-end encryption (in the other two applications discussed).
      4. Available on all clients ( in the other two applications discussed).
      5. App is partially open-sourced.
      6. The personal version of the app focuses on ephemeral messages, which means that messages disapper automatically after a set period of time (great for privacy).
      7. Other great security features that this app implements is self-destructing messages, content shredding, and an inability to take screenshots (on Andriod only).
    2. There are a couple of cons that can affect the user experience:
      1. The program is not fully open-sourced (this means that people can only partially review and check the code of the program).
      2. Results of audits are not published
      3. The application was bought by Amazon in 2021, which means that the goals and features of the application could potentially change with the new leadership.

While there are other WhatsApp alternatives that we did not discuss in this article, we believed that these three were some of the best texting applications that allowed you to have privacy without losing too much on WhatsApp features. One honorable mention that was not included in the article (as it did not offer such a high standard of privacy), but we thought was a great application was Telegram. You can learn more about Telegram which is lackluster in privacy features but contains other perks that offset that flaw.

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