People are becoming more and more concerned with their privacy and Facebook's flagship messaging application is caught between it all. While still widely popular it has becoming to lose its ground due to many unanswered questions about privacy encryption.
Lucky for all of us there are alternatives for more secure messaging.
Arguably the most secure of all well-regarded messaging apps, Signal
is the favorite of the European Commission, as well as newsrooms around the world. While Signal doesn’t disclose how many daily or monthly users the app has, Google’s Play Store says it has been installed more than 50 million times. While using Signal, each voice or video call connected through the app includes full end-to-end encryption.
Signal takes an extra step by hiding message metadata so that the location of the original message is missing. While it asks for your mobile number, that number isn’t used with your profile. Instead, it acts as a numeric username. Once registered, you will find 1-1 chat, audio, and video calls, disappearing or “secret” chats, and a privacy lock so nobody can access the app even if they have your phone. Best of all, it’s completely free to use.
One of the biggest competitors to Facebook Messenger (and WhatsApp), Telegram
is a very strong alternative. With more than 400 million users, it offers an interface that should feel right at home for anyone coming from Messenger. Telegram offers some huge benefits over Messenger, including features like groups that can hold up to 200,000 members for a chat. There is no limit on your media or chat size, and you can share all types of files between users and in groups.
From a privacy standpoint, Telegram has robust security, but it is worth noting that only “secret” messages are end-to-end encrypted and can self-destruct. Non-secret messages can be stored on Telegram’s servers so you can pick them up between your devices quickly. That’s a consideration worth knowing prior to making Telegram your default Messenger replacement. Telegram is free across all platforms.
Rising in popularity, Threema
is another privacy-focused alternative that has quickly become a competitor to Facebook Messenger. This paid service ($2.99 on both App Store and Play Store) is a pay-once, use forever option. Once you pay the small fee, you gain all of Threema’s touted privacy options, like open-source end-to-end encryption for both messages and calls.
Like Signal, Threema won’t require you to link any phone numbers or emails to your account. All chats are handled anonymously, and the service generates a random user ID when you first open and register for the app. No data is collected from any of your chats and no ads are shown.
The Swiss-made app does have its own servers hosted in Switzerland, which do not store any chat messages. Another privacy benefit of Threema is the notion that all of your contact lists, groups, and user profiles are hosted on your device, not on the Swiss servers. Because of that, Threema can once again state that none of your personal info is stored anywhere they have access.