The 5 Best Facebook Messenger Alternatives for Private Chats

Its chats are not end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning that Facebook could access your chats if it wanted to. And because Facebook thrives on collecting as much data as possible, you’re probably not comfortable with the company spying on what you say to your friends.

So, with that in mind, we have compiled a list of Facebook Messenger alternatives which allow you to chat privately with family and friends. Once you’ve chosen one you’ll just have to convince your friends to sign up to it too.

1. Signal

If you’re looking for a super secure messaging client that’s also easy to use, Signal could be the one for you. Signal is an open source messaging service available on Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Signal is developed by Signal Foundation, a successor to Open Whisper Systems. The best part about Signal’s privacy is that the backend code is also open source and verifiable. A lot of secure messaging services only open source the frontend application code (“client-side”) while keeping the backend platform proprietary (“server-side”).

That’s not the case with Signal. This might seem like a small thing, but this layer of transparency adds more confidence and trust to the system. It’s one of the reasons why Edward Snowden has endorsed Signal. Regardless of how you feel about him, he certainly knows about privacy.

With the application itself, you’ll find all the features you’d look for in a messaging service. You can text, make voice calls, send pictures and videos, share documents, create group chats, and similar.

Signal is extremely simple to use. You sign up using your phone number and a one-time password that’s sent to you via SMS. Then, just give your name and you’re all set. There’s no email address or password to worry about.

Signal will ask your permission to look up your contacts, but it only uses this temporarily to see who you also know on Signal. Those details aren’t kept on Signal’s servers.

Download: Signal for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Telegram

Telegram has arisen as a hugely popular alternative to the more mainstream messaging apps. With over 400 million monthly active users at the time of writing, there’s clearly lots to love about Telegram.

You’ll find its interface familiar to Facebook Messenger, with a lot of the same features and characteristics—minus the bad parts. Telegram is available on every major platform including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web. The app’s UI is clean and simple to use.

When you’re looking for secure and private alternatives to popular messaging clients, Telegram is usually one of the first options to pop up. But while Telegram is open source, only the client-side code is available to the public. The server-side code is all proprietary, so you have to trust the company’s word on its security.

Some security experts criticize Telegram because it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default. For this, you need to open a Secret Chat with every person you’re talking to. Without it, Telegram works just like every other messaging service: keeping your messages protected on its servers, where it has access to all of your data. This conveniently allows you to use it on all your devices, though.

So why is Telegram on this list? Because it’s way better than Facebook Messenger. There are no annoying ads or stories. And Telegram boasts some really useful bots. Because the service is so popular, you’ll probably find that your friends are already using Telegram. If not, you can hopefully convince them to jump ship.

Download: Telegram for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Threema

Threema is a paid messaging app with a focus on privacy and gimmick-free features. It includes all of the essentials you’d expect, like group chats, voice calls, media sharing, and more. In addition to these standard tools, Threema lets you protect sensitive chats with a PIN, agree or disagree with messages using reactions, and choose whether to sync your contacts.

Everything is end-to-end encrypted to protect your privacy. However, Threema goes one step further, as it doesn’t require you to use your phone number or email address to sign up. The app provides you with a random ID instead, which can’t be connected to you. See Threema’s Security page for more information.

The app costs a one-time fee of $3, and doesn’t include any ads or other nonsense once you’re in. You can also use the app on the web after installing it on your phone.

Download: Threema for Android | iOS ($2.99)

4. Wire

Wire is intended for business-level collaboration, but features a basic free tier for personal use. It’s completely open source and features end-to-end encryption across all communication. The service has received independent audits from many security firms, so you can trust that it’s secure.

For chatting one-on-one or with a few friends, Wire is probably overkill since it’s intended as something more akin to Slack. But if you have a bigger group and want to set up secure communication with them, Wire could work.

Download: Wire for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

5. WhatsApp

With over two billion monthly users, WhatsApp is certainly the biggest messaging platform in the world. It’s owned by Facebook which may rightfully give you pause for thought. But for now, the app has managed to stay mostly independent from Facebook.

WhatsApp’s Status feature isn’t in your face all the time. There are no ads in the app. And even its business features are tastefully implemented.

There are two big reasons WhatsApp makes for a solid alternative to Facebook Messenger. First, WhatsApp uses end-to-end AES 256-bit encryption by default on all chats. As long as you (and the person you’re talking to) are running the latest version of WhatsApp, your chats are encrypted.

WhatsApp states its position on encryption clearly in the WhatsApp FAQs:

“WhatsApp has no ability to see the content of messages or listen to calls on WhatsApp. That’s because the encryption and decryption of messages sent on WhatsApp occurs entirely on your device. Before a message ever leaves your device, it is secured with a cryptographic lock, and only the recipient has the keys.

In addition, the keys change with every single message that is sent. While all of this happens behind the scenes, you can confirm your conversations are protected by checking the security verification code on your device.”

Also, WhatsApp uses the Signal Protocol end-to-end encryption system, which is the same open source setup used by Signal. Furthermore, you can use two-step authentication to secure the WhatsApp data on your phone.

So the world’s most popular messaging app, which is owned by Facebook, is also one of the most secure and privacy-focused messaging apps. This is ironic, but means that WhatsApp is better for privacy than you might at first think.

Download: WhatsApp for Android | iOS (Free)

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