The best WhatsApp alternatives at a glance

21 Mar, 2022

WhatsApp privacy under criticism again

As of February 08, 2021, Facebook is updating its privacy policy on WhatsApp, leading to great uncertainty and criticism from users, not to mention a mass exodus to alternative messengers like Signal, Telegram oder Threema. Because without the consent of the new statement, the use of the app beyond the deadline is not possible. The main point of criticism is that WhatsApp now allows itself to exchange sensitive data with Facebook, especially for advertising purposes. The data concerned includes phone numbers, transaction data, IP addresses or general information about how the user interacts with others (including companies)..

WhatsApps Explaination

WhatsApp officially justifies this cut with the fight against spam and abuse. Some other changes in the new privacy policy are, for example, push notifications about innovations and various adjustments for business customers. Confusingly, there is a separate version of the new privacy policy for EU citizens, as the EU Commission has so far prohibited data exchange between WhatsApp and Facebook. Nevertheless, we have already pointed out in past publications the already active data exchange between WhatsApp and Facebook and further EUDGSVO violations by WhatsApp. So which messenger app is now the best WhatsApp alternative?

The WhatsApp Alternatives at a glance

Signal

  • Company is a charitable foundation
  • Source code of the app is open source, thus auditable and trustworthy
  • Operator has no access to user data
  • Good encryption (all chats, phone calls and recently also the group video calls are end-to-end encrypted)
  • Access to the contact book not mandatory
  • It can be set that messages disappear automatically
  • Free of charge and free of advertising
  • Compulsion to use telephone number is viewed critically by some data protection experts

Threema

  • TTransparent and comprehensible privacy policy
  • Since this year also open source
  • Business version of the messenger available
  • Use also possible fully anonymously, i.e. without providing personal data
  • Email or phone number can be optionally specified and will be hashed and stored only temporarily
  • No support for disappearing messages
  • Paid (Android: 3.99 Euro; iOS: 3.99 Euro)

Telegram

  • the app is also open source
  • End-to-end encrypted chats are not stored on server
  • free of charge
  • User data is automatically deleted after six months of inactivity
  • Chats are not automatically end-to-end encrypted: participants of the chat have to activate the setting awkwardly per chat (“secret chats”) and encryption is not available for group chats
  • When using address book synchronization, first name, last name and phone numbers of contacts are stored
  • Messages are stored on Telegram servers
  • No German Privacy Policy
  • Increased risk of data loss if the data is stored unencrypted on Telegram’s servers
  • Disappearance of messages can be activated only in secret chats in different time levels

Conclusion: WhatsApp alternatives are serious

Our recommended WhatsApp alternatives are (in descending order) Signal, Threema and Telegram. All three are open source and therefore transparent in their development and data processing. All three apps automatically use effective end-to-end encryption, but Telegram unfortunately requires users to activate it for each chat individually. This has also been criticized technically in the past. If you are looking for a messenger for private conversations, Signal is the best choice. For companies, Threema Work is worth a look. Among other things, it offers guaranteed availability and administration tools. The main argument for WhatsApp has been its widespread use. Due to the recent events and uncertainty among users, the competitors were able to gain significant ground recently and are thus becoming serious alternatives for the masses.

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