I’m trying to be as objective as I can here, so here’s my opinion about the various messaging apps.

WhatsApp

Most of my family and friends know that I’m not on WhatsApp. The reason for this is that I have had issues with Facebook’s way of working with my data, up to the point that I was contacted by marketing agencies that tried to sell me stuff… (The things they sold were specifically aimed at information they got via Facebook.)

WhatsApp is going to sell your information to third parties. They recently changed their terms of use, it has been all over the news, so this shouldn’t be a big surprise.

WhatsApp does not store the content of your messages, but they DO store a whole lot of stuff ABOUT your messages. Things like: Who are you talking to, howoften, where you are at the time of the conversation (GPS data), and so on. This is called “meta-data” (which literally means data about data) and this is even more valuable than the content of the messages itself.

For all these reasons, WhatsApp is not an option for me.

Facebook Messenger

This one is probably the worst one of them all. It is a separate app, but it gathers about everything you can think of… even data about the phone calls you make, not with the app… no the ones you make just with your phone.

This program is one of the biggest spies yet. If you even are slightly concerned about privacy, this is probably the first piece of software to get rid of.

Telegram

Telegram is partially open source, partially closed source. It is run by two Russian brothers, Nikolai and Pavel Durov. They They fund this privately and are currently based in Dubai. (They have left Russia because of government pressure.) Telegram tries to stay under the radar and not disclose where they have office.

The server-side of their software is closed source, meaning that we do not know what is happening with our messages in transit. Messages we send from A to B can be read by the server, they can tap this kind of information, analyze it and store it. Their policy is to store this stuff encrypted, but there’s no way for us to verify this. (Telegram has the ability for secret chats, that do have client-to-client encryption but this needs to be enabled.)

Telegram tries to protect its users, that’s a big plus. The thing is though, although they say that they do all that, we cannot independently verify their claims.

Signal

Signal has become quite popular … really quick these days. This is the first truly open source messenger. They do not store data on the servers, period. Communication between clients is encrypted end-to-end. They are a non-profit surviving on donations, same way Wikipedia does.

This is the go-to example on how this should be.

So what do I use?

I’m using at this time Telegram and Signal. Eventually I’ll probably move off Telegram and just use Signal.


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