10 Alternatives to Whatsapp that Actually Respect Your Privacy

When social media giant Facebook purchased everyone’s favorite mobile messenger “Whatsapp,” users were promised their data would be private and that they wouldn’t be subject to the shady things that Mark Zuckerberg and crew are known for. That promise is all but gone, leaving many of us seeking alternatives.

As time has gone on, more and more privacy has been taken away from Whatsapp users in the name of “analytical data.” Gone are the days when you could trust this app to be totally private and not expect to get data mined for valuable information – information that could easily be sold to advertisers.

Pretty bleak, right? So let’s lighten the mood by presenting you with a bunch of Whatsapp alternatives that aren’t made of broken promises and baby tears. Here are our top picks.

Availability: Android, Web

best-whatsapp-alternatives-wire

With end-to-end encryption and a no-nonsense interface, Wire is making some waves on the secure messaging scene. Made by Skype co-founder Janus Friis, Wire has some heavyweight design nous behind it.

You need to provide your your mobile number or email to use the app, though these aren’t shared with other users, who you can communicate with via a username. Timed messages are also an option, letting you self-destruct them between five seconds and one day after you send them.

Availability: iOS, Android

alternatives-to-whatsapp-kik-messenger

KIK has developed a bit of a salacious reputation over the years as an app used for sexting, drug dealing and all manner of underhanded tomfoolery (as well as standard messaging, of course). If nothing else, that’s testament to one thing: it’s pretty darn private.

This free app doesn’t store your phone number, so you’re identifiable only by your username, and all messaging data is stored locally on your phone, leaving your privacy in your hands. KIK is therefore virtually unmoderated and perfect for the privacy-conscious.

Availability: iOS, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-line

The biggest WhatsApp competitor you probably haven’t heard of, LINE is a Japanese-developed app that offers a powerful feature set, conference calls, thousands of stickers, and a clean, customizable interface. It uses less data than WhatsApp during calls and end-to-end encryption.

While certain features require LINE to access your contacts list, location and so on, all of this is optional, and whatever data you send is encrypted on LINE’s servers. You can also set self-destruct timers to delete messages from LINE’s servers.

Availability: Android

best-whatsapp-alternatives-wickr-me

In probably the best endorsement of a privacy-oriented messaging app, Wickr Me is apparently used by journalists, world leaders and other sorts who want to keep their private business private. (No names were specified, mind you, but that’s sort of the point, right?)

Like WhatsApp, Wickr Me uses your phone number to log in and contains all manner of silly and fun features like stickers and emojis. But that’s where the similarities end. Wickr doesn’t store your contacts on its servers, doesn’t keep metadata, and deletes messages irretrievably from your phone when you ask it to.

It’s free, doesn’t involve ads, and encrypts your data to high heaven. Good stuff.

Availability: iOS, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-telegram

Telegram is perhaps the most worthy alternative to Whatsapp. For starters, it essentially has comparable features like voice and video messages, a phone number-based login system, stickers, emojis, chat bots, groups, channels and so much more. Along with those cool features, Telegram isn’t just a mobile app.

That’s right, you can use Telegram on Windows, Mac and even Linux with their desktop app. Alternatively, Telegram has a web chat application for all your messaging needs. Best of all, Telegram supports end-to-end encryption and respects your privacy.

Availability: PC, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-kontalk

Have you ever wanted to host your own “Whatsapp” service? With Kontalk, this is possible. This app is an open XMPP-based alternative to Whatsapp that you can keep entirely on your own server. This means you and only you will be in charge of the chat between you and your friends and family, making it the ultimate at respecting your privacy.

Kontalk has an app in the Google Play store as well as the F-Droid app store and a desktop client. If you’re looking for a solution that you can make entirely your own, this is the best choice.

Availability: iOS (as Antidote), Android

whatsapp-alternative-tox

Antox is a robust and privacy-respecting messenger application. It supports all of the standard chat features you’d expect. Antox (Antidote on iOS), unlike a lot of the items on this list, isn’t nailed down to one single app. That’s because it has many officially “blessed” apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS and even FreeBSD.

This ultimately is a messaging protocol, and a secure one at that. It’s under heavy development. Ultimately, Tox is very stable, although you should expect bugs once in a while. If you’re looking to oust Whatsapp from your life, don’t mind the risk of using a beta, and want a bit of variety, go with this app.

Availability: iOS, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-signal

Signal is an app for Android, iPhone, macOS, Windows, Linux, and Chrome that is designed around a similar principle to Telegram. Private communication is based on your phone number, and they promise you’ll avoid SMS and MMS fees, as your number is just used as an ID and not the point of transmission.

As Signal is pretty much a more open-sourced Telegram clone, you’ll see comparable features to that service. If you’ve used Telegram and want something more open, you should give this one a shot. Regardless of its “clone” status, it’s a worthy alternative to Whatsapp.

Availability: iOS, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-threema

Threema is a mobile chat platform that puts your privacy first. Like some other apps on this list, it supports end-to-end encryption of text, images and your GPS location. It also synchronizes with your contacts, making it super easy to find people who are joining the service automatically.

The developers and owners of the service claim that “even we as the server operator have absolutely no way to read your messages,” so you know everything you say is protected and locked away from big companies and governments mining your data.

Availability: iOS/Apple Watch, Android

whatsapp-alternatives-kakaotalk

KakaoTalk is a chat application for Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Windows and macOS designed to let the world chat on a one-on-one basis or with groups in mind. Like most modern chat applications, this app supports the sending of multimedia (pictures, videos, etc.).

The service might not be as well known as some of the others on this list, but don’t let that turn you off. It’s a well-designed program and is about as prolific as it gets. If you’ve tried everything on this list already and haven’t found what you want, perhaps you should give kakaoTalk a go.

Whatsapp used to be a good app, and by most standards, it still is. Facebook has beefed it up with features and made it incredibly competitive. However, seeing as how this platform is little more than a data-farm for advertisements, people should seriously consider switching to one of the apps on this list.

Each alternative to Whatsapp listed here has its own strengths as well as weaknesses. However, one thing they all have in common is that they’re miles removed from any sort of Facebook control.

This article was first published in September 2016 and was updated in June 2018.

14 comments

    • Agree. Stumbled across Wire Messenger while looking for a simple, classic IM solution for my Desktop. Turned out to be feature-rich, privacy-respecting, open source, end2end encryption and a bunch of other stuff. I have it running on Desktop Linux (supports macOS and Windows) and on Android (support for iOS too).

      Doesn’t even require a telephone to use or force the user to give up their contacts.

      • Wire has a clean layout and cool function, encryption is cool and the open sourcing of the server part a few weeks ago, too.
        But there are big disadvantages: for month the notifications on Android don’t work for me (one of 10 notifications gets through) and apparently for many other users too. The support says they know and are working on it. And they have 16 (!) tipps on their support page what you can try to get them work.
        Another sad fact: when you change your phone you will lose all wire chat history. No way. No export no import. Do you really want to use a messenger which forgets all you conversations by design when changing your phone?

        Btw: thanks for the article.
        One addition: in Russia all people are using Viber – since 2016 it has end to end encryption too.

  1. Thanx for your article.
    My personal favorite for Android is Kontalk be cause I love the community concept.

    I hope some day they will find a iOS and WP developer. I think this day will be the day for really free communications :-)

  2. Where did you get the idea that Signal is Telegram’s clone? The dates of the initial release of each alone should give you a clue (hint: Signal is > year earlier than Telegram). Also, Signal’s Moxie has a whitepaper published with their key ratcheting scheme (with favorable reviews from major cryptographers), while Telegram’s protocol MTproto contains some unmotivated choices and only hype-based “proof” of security.

  3. Pulse is a great alternative to Whatsapp. Secure and private, it is free. It also has a PC app for a one-time small fee.

  4. Whatsapp is a complete crap, and the whole Facebook crew should burn in hell forever for what they are doing to the mobile world. I’ve never seen such an arrogant company that does whatever they want whenever they want…ohh yes, I’ve seen only Microsoft doing this, pardon me.

    • “the whole Facebook crew should burn in hell forever for what they are doing to the mobile world”
      Why should they care as long as they have lemmings that keep using their products? They are making money for themselves and their investors and that is what is important to them. M$ hasn’t done too bad following that philosophy.

  5. too many too confusing.

    Which ones simple from start to finish.

    easy sync, easy notification (like a sms), secure, and easy delete and add?

  6. https://sidenet.com – though not an app, but a very privacy-focused social website. It is lightweight, does not collect any secret data, and concentrates only to personal communication with other real people.

  7. Wickr Me seems to work well and does not require access to your contacts not does it require a phone number.
    The only bad things I have noticed so far is that there is not landscape mode, audio breaks up a little on a 25Mbps WiFi connection, there does not seem to be a way to set a custom notification sound, and in speakerphone, the audio appears half-duplex.

  8. !! Kontalk !!
    Can I use the Desktop version without the Android App?

    Currently not. Kontalk is primarily a mobile messenger therefore the Desktop client is only meant to be an addition to your Android App. However, we’re working on making the key-transfer between the Kontalk clients easier…

    So, no phone… no Kontalk!!!!
    RIDICULOUS

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