WhatsApp, Messenger and Telegram are just a few messaging app options to consider. Tom Merritt lists five things you need to know about messaging apps.
You can’t spell “messaging” without “mess.” There are dozens of apps and protocols with varying levels of security and protection. How do you choose? Mostly, you choose based on who you’re trying to reach, since everybody seems to use a different one. If you want to try to get your friends and family on the same service, here are five things to know about messaging apps.
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- WhatsApp. It’s worldwide, end-to-end encrypted, owned by Facebook and it recently made a mess of announcing it wanted to let businesses store some of their metadata on Facebook servers; however, WhatsApp would not circumvent encryption or let Facebook see your messages. WhatsApp is a solid option with a lot of good features–it’s just a matter of trust in the parent company for many folks.
- Messenger. This is the convenience option. Facebook would like to make it end-to-end encrypted, but it’s really the one you use because the people you’re messaging already are your friends on Facebook. See previous trust issues.
- Telegram. This one’s nice because you can use a username rather than having to give people your phone number to connect, though it does collect your phone number and contacts at signup. You can use it on multiple devices, and chats are client-to-server encrypted–not end-to-end–in order to combat spam. You can use secret chat to make it end-to-end.
- SMS. It does work. If you have the phone number, it’s probably the surest way to get the message there. It’s not secure at all, and it’s not feature rich, but for some people, it’s all they need.
- Signal. It’s open source and operated by a nonprofit, so they’re not going to be motivated to sell your data. It does use a phone number for registration, but after that, it knows nothing about your account. Even contact matching is done with cryptographically hashed phone numbers. It includes lots of extra security measures as well, which makes it the choice of journalists, activists and whistleblowers.
It’s a matter of balancing security with features. Let your contacts know what your preference is and why–hopefully, they’ll get the message.
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