For a long time, the platform has been a separate app even after Facebook acquired it in 2014. However, security-conscious users and privacy experts are still concerned about the app’s privacy despite the app having end-to-end encryption.
Perhaps it’s because of the multiple security breaches that Facebook and its third-party apps were involved in. These breaches left people feeling that WhatsApp isn’t as secure as it was before the tech giant acquired it.
Facebook also recently announced that they’re considering combining Facebook Messenger, Instagram’s messaging functions, and WhatsApp. While this move is meant to bring WhatsApp in line with the standards of the other platforms, it hasn’t augured well with everyone.
Facebook also shared about changes that were coming to WhatsApp from May 15, 2021, which would require users to agree to new terms and conditions to continue using the service.
Since that announcement, they’ve been wrongly interpreted as allowing the tech giant to get more of your data. To add to that, the recent downtimes that affect all three platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp simultaneously, bring inconveniences that you hardly find with other messaging apps.
As a result, millions of people are ditching WhatsApp for other better, privacy-focused, and secure alternatives.
If you value your privacy more than convenience and want to escape Facebook’s vast data-tracking ecosystem, here are the best WhatsApp alternatives you can try today.
If you’re ready to give WhatsApp the boot for good, we’ve listed below some of the best options out there that offer what WhatsApp doesn’t have.
Signal has a very familiar interface to what you’re used to on WhatsApp, except for a few minor differences. The free app uses your phone’s data connection or WiFi to transmit encrypted messages – images, voice notes, or videos – to people or groups.
You can make video calls or one-to-one voice calls as you would on WhatsApp, and any messages you send are converted into indecipherable code until it hits your recipient’s device. This removes any chance or likelihood of a third party intercepting the message on the way.
Plus, Signal uses an open-source underlying code, which means privacy and security experts scrutinize it. This is probably why it’s become a huge competitor to WhatsApp, besides the ability to set messages to self-destruct.
However, the same open-source E2EE protocol Signal uses is also used by WhatsApp. The main difference is that you’ll get the same security minus Facebook’s involvement.
If you’d rather send your messages from a desktop computer, you can use Signal on a Chrome browser plugin, which is akin to using WhatsApp Web. Regular security audits are conducted on the Signal software and anyone can use its user-friendly interface, even if they’re not tech-savvy.
You won’t get animated emojis in Signal like you would in other messaging apps like Telegram. WhatsApp doesn’t have those either.
While there’s the threat of Facebook keeping metadata related to WhatsApp usage, you won’t have to worry about that with Signal. The app and the Signal Foundation keep almost no app usage metadata, except the date and time you registered with Signal and the last date of your connectivity to the service.
Signal also sends out warnings of unencrypted messages when you try to send them to non-Signal users, making the app very transparent in use. And, your contacts are stored locally on your device, so Signal Foundation can’t access them.
Telegram is perhaps one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mass exodus of ex-WhatsApp users. The cloud-based app, which was launched in 2013, has since acquired over 500 million users and enjoys popularity in countries like Russia and Iran whose governments have tried banning it.
Unlike WhatsApp, whose policy changes are threatening the privacy and security of its users, Telegram doesn’t. It’s no wonder they got a staggering 25 million new signups in just 72 hours at the start of 2021.
However, Telegram isn’t E2EE by default. It works differently than other messaging apps by allowing you to enable E2EE for one-to-one secret chats.
You can create broadcast channels with as many as 200,000 members compared to WhatsApp, whose groups limit you to less than 255 members. Plus, you can change your channel to be private or public and involve admins sending out messages to each subscriber. You can also use the bots feature to assist with managing your channels or groups in Telegram.
Another key feature that makes Telegram one of the best WhatsApp alternatives includes polls, sharing live locations, stickers, online authorization, and identity management if you need proof of identity.
You also get the option to share files, set self-destructing messages, and sync messages across your devices for free.
For iPhone or iPad users, the iMessage app is a great alternative to WhatsApp. It only works on Apple devices and offers great security and E2EE between users.
You can control how long the message will stay up and the frequency of your recipient seeing the message, though this is only available in iOS 10 and newer versions.
Among its core features include sending multimedia files and documents, giving read receipts and delivery statuses, plus sending texts to other iOS, iPadOS, or watchOS device users.
You need a password to access the encrypted messages. And if you use FaceTime, you can also enjoy E2EE-empowered video calls provided you’re using an Apple device.
iMessage also lets you send stickers and location data and use custom extensions to extend the app’s capabilities such as sharing recently played music.
Just as iMessage is designed for Apple device users, so is Google Messages for Android device users.
The app is available right out of the box on Android-powered devices, but you can also download it from the Google Play Store. It’s designed to replace the default SMS app on your phone and integrates with Google Services.
You get automatic E2EE when messaging other Google Messages users, and you can send multimedia files, documents, and texts just as you would on WhatsApp.
The only major difference is that you don’t get voice or video calling as that has its own app – Google Duo – the same way iMessage and FaceTime are separate apps.
Thankfully, though, you can use Duo on your Android device or install it for free from the Play Store to use on your Android or iOS device.
Unlike WhatsApp, which is now under Facebook’s ecosystem, Google Messages is managed by Google Services, meaning you can use it easily with other Google apps thanks to seamless integrations.
Threema is a secure texting app whose parent company is based in Switzerland – a country whose data privacy laws are very strong and independent from the EU and US. It also owns its own server infrastructure in its home country.
The app offers E2EE encryption not just for your messages but also for voice calls, group chats, status messages, and media files.
Only you and the intended recipient can read the messages, so no one else can interfere or gain access to the information you send.
Plus, with Threema, the messages you send are deleted from their servers once they reach the intended recipient. You get a Private Chats feature, which you can use to protect individual chats using a PIN code compared to WhatsApp, which only offers one PIN for all chats generally.
Your confidential chats are safe from malicious actors, and you can use the key fingerprint and QR code to verify identities and prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
The app uses the NaCI cryptography open-source library for E2EE of all communications. It’s also regularly audited by security professionals, and you don’t need to sign up for an account with your email or phone number as you do with WhatsApp.
You can purchase Threema using Bitcoin, and text or make calls anonymously with the least amount of metadata collected based on your calls or messages.
The app isn’t free though, but it’s not costly either, and that makes its user base smaller than other messaging apps. However, you get more features including great security, group polling, and E2EE for video calls – not groups.
Threema also has a native secure browser and stores everything on your phone instead of a random server that can be accessed by other parties.
Wire is another great WhatsApp alternative that’s based in Switzerland and is free to use with some premium paid tiers. The app is more than just a messaging platform but also bills itself as a collaboration suite for file sharing and conference calling.
The app offers E2EE by default and is audited with reports that you can find on its website. One of its benefits is that it works across devices and syncs everything that’s automatically end-to-end encrypted. WhatsApp only works on one device so you may need to use web apps to use it elsewhere.
You’ll need an email and phone number to use Wire, and it keeps quite a lot of metadata for easier syncing across multiple devices.
They’ve been keeping a list of users you’ve contacted on their servers in plaintext until you delete your account, though it’s not clear if this still happens.
Their privacy whitepaper says it logs data like user-defined folders for organizing chats and participants in a group chat. This helps Wire to work across devices in a way that other end-to-end encrypted messenger apps don’t.
Wire also uses the Proteus protocol to provide E2EE for texts, and your voice and video calls are also encrypted with SRTP handshake and DTLS for up to 25 and 12 participants respectively.
You won’t get advanced video conferencing features like screen recording or screen sharing, and advanced meeting scheduling. There’s a free version and Pro versions, which are designed for large enterprises or organizations.
Wire is also better than WhatsApp as it can sync across devices and supports multiple accounts when you want to separate your communications.
Discord was initially a game chat platform for gamers, but over time, it’s grown to be much more than that and competes with the likes of WhatsApp and Slack based on your needs.
The server-based messaging app has a Friends tab, where you can add friends using gamer tags or usernames, private message features like that of WhatsApp, and you can use it for private chatting, group calls or chats, media file sharing, and more.
You can create group chats with up to 10 friends or start your own Discord server if you need to add more friends or a larger group.
The app is free to use, private, and feature-rich. You also don’t need to share your real name or phone number to use it as you do on WhatsApp, and it works on all major operating systems including Linux.
Wickr is a secure messenger and WhatsApp alternative created in 2012 by a group of privacy advocates and security experts. The app offers E2EE and is open-source so you won’t need an email address or phone number to register as you do on WhatsApp.
It’s built with privacy in mind so it doesn’t collect your user data nor have access to it.
However, Wickr is more aimed at businesses rather than individuals and offers a secure chat workspace.
You can get the free version – Wickr Me – if you don’t want to subscribe to the premium plans. However, the free version comes with limited features like you can’t include more people on voice calls.
Unlike WhatsApp, you can share your screen and it’s end-to-end encrypted, with multi-factor authentication to protect user logins. You can also set messages to self-destruct after a particular period of time by using the Burn-On-Read timer.
The app scrubs all metadata once the message is opened, read, or expires – whichever comes first. Plus, the company also deletes any undelivered messages sitting on its servers after a set period of time – six days by default.
Viber is a service owned by Rakuten, a Japanese e-retailer, and which started out as a VoIP app. Over time, the app has grown to include voice calls, text and group messaging, fully synced apps for desktop and mobile, plus other features.
The service is tied to your phone number like WhatsApp and offers E2EE for more safety while using the service.
You get high-quality calling features that are secure so the information you share with others is protected along the way until it gets to the recipient. It also offers unique features you won’t find in WhatsApp like AR-powered selfie lenses (collaboration with Snapchat), and a Communities channel where you can discuss different topics of interest with other people worldwide.
Viber is free and has a little under one billion users worldwide. You can archive chats or access them with a PIN. You can also create Safe chats where your phone number or photo remain hidden if you’re talking with someone outside your contacts list.
You can have fun with its wide selection of cartoon stickers or create yours and share them with others. You can also record short video clips, delete messages sent in error remotely, or set timers for messages to auto-delete.
Viber doesn’t access your data or conversation content. It only holds information about your messages for delivery purposes after which they’re removed from Viber servers.
Element is built on server federation unlike WhatsApp, which relies on a centralized server network to function. The app is free but there’s a premium version that you can opt for.
The main thrust of this app is that you retain ownership of your data and choose which server will host your information. The free version acts like WhatsApp and other messaging apps with chats, groups, and video calls all end-to-end encrypted along with cross-signed device verification.
It’s like a private WhatsApp but without the clutches of Facebook and you get to retain your privacy rights and freedom on the platform.
If you want more capacity than the free version offers, you can pay for tiers that cater for as little as 25 up to 1000+ with more features like your own branding, custom DNS, server location options, and ability to collaborate on other apps or plug into existing communication.
Keybase is a Zoom-owned messaging app that started out as a key directory for public and private identifier keys but comes with an E2EE messaging component.
The messaging feature can be used for your group, team, or private messaging, and you don’t have to worry about your messages as they’re protected using public-key cryptography.
You can send files, messages, and media in a protected environment such that Keybase can’t read your information or messages. You can also use it anonymously on any device, and use the Jitsi bot to get voice and video calling features.
With Keybase, you can connect to others using their social media identities, compared to WhatsApp which connects to Facebook and Instagram only and verify them using PGP encryption keys.
You also don’t need to use an email address or phone number to register as you do on WhatsApp and Keybase will sync your data across multiple devices.
Previously Cyber Dust, this private messaging app uses E2EE as its main privacy and security feature. It functions like Snapchat, by erasing messages from the recipient’s device so they’re not stored permanently on the devices or on the servers.
Plus the messages are encrypted heavily so no one can access them – not even Dust’s team. The aim is to create a platform for social communication with enhanced privacy and security using AES 128 and RSA 248 encryption.
If you want to keep your content very secure than what WhatsApp offers, Dust is worth considering. You can hide your tracks online and get notifications if your passwords are compromised in a data leak.
Names aren’t displayed in one-to-one chats so people can’t take screenshots as evidence because they can’t prove who the sender was. And, you’ll get notified if someone takes screenshots in a chat, something that WhatsApp doesn’t provide.
Line is a secure texting app like WhatsApp that was initially built to be a communication solution for Japanese engineers after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. The calamity messed the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, so people could only talk via internet-connected platforms.
The platform has a Letter Sealing feature, which you won’t find on WhatsApp that’s end-to-end encrypted and you can enable it to enjoy benefits like the wallet, which WhatsApp doesn’t have, and pay or send money or use various LINE financial services.
This app is similar to other private chat platforms listed here and provides full encryption for your conversations. You can use the Secret Chat feature, like the one Telegram offers, and secure messages with E2EE.
The chat mode isn’t E2EE by default so you’ll need to enable it. However, it provides better privacy and data security compared to WhatsApp whose link to Facebook raises more concern for how its users’ data is handled.
Switching from WhatsApp to other alternatives such as those listed here is a great move if you don’t want to be governed by Facebook’s terms and conditions.
Any of these platforms offer end-to-end encryption, privacy, and other unique features that will make your move worthwhile.
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.