Facebook Messenger has long been the social media giant’s primary platform for messaging. While it remains hugely popular, conversations across the Web have continued to focus more and more on privacy. As those conversations take place, Facebook finds itself at something of a crossroads as data sharing between it and Messenger brings up as many questions as it does answers. To that end, users are starting to look for alternatives. The good news is that there are plenty of options available. Here are some of the best Facebook Messenger alternatives when you are ready to jump ship.
Arguably the most secure of all well-regarded messaging apps, Signal is the favorite of the European Commission, as well as newsrooms around the world. While Signal doesn’t disclose how many daily or monthly users the app has, Google’s Play Store says it has been installed more than 50 million times. While using Signal, each voice or video call connected through the app includes full end-to-end encryption.
Signal takes an extra step by hiding message metadata so that the location of the original message is missing. While it asks for your mobile number, that number isn’t used with your profile. Instead, it acts as a numeric username. Once registered, you will find 1-1 chats, audio and video calls, disappearing or “secret” chats and a privacy lock so nobody can access the app even if they have your phone. Best of all, it’s completely free to use.
One of the biggest competitors to Facebook Messenger (and WhatsApp), Telegram is a very strong alternative. With more than 400 million users, it offers an interface that should feel right at home for anyone coming from Messenger. Telegram offers some huge benefits over Messenger, including features like groups that can hold up to 200,000 members for chat. There is no limit on your media or chat size, and you can share all types of files between users and in groups.
From a privacy standpoint, Telegram has robust security, but it is worth noting that only “secret” messages are end-to-end encrypted and can self-destruct. Non-secret messages can be stored on Telegram’s servers so you can pick them up between your devices quickly. That’s a consideration worth knowing prior to making Telegram your default Messenger replacement. Telegram is free across all platforms.
Rising in popularity, Threema is another privacy-focused alternative that has quickly become a competitor to Facebook Messenger. This paid service ($2.99 on both App Store and Play Store) is a pay-once, use forever option. Once you pay the small fee, you gain all of Threema’s touted privacy options, like open-source end-to-end encryption for both messages and calls.
Like Signal, Threema won’t require you to link any phone numbers or emails to your account. All chats are handled anonymously, and the service generates a random user ID when you first open and register for the app. No data is collected from any of your chats and no ads are shown.
The Swiss-made app does have its own servers hosted in Switzerland, which does not store any chat messages. Another privacy benefit of Threema is the notion that all of your contact lists, groups and user profiles are hosted on your device, not on the Swiss servers. Because of that, Threema can once again state that none of your personal info is stored anywhere they have access.
Viber is full of everything you would want in a Messenger replacement. Voice and video calls are the backbone of the app, and they both offer end-to-end encryption by default. Like Telegram, communities are front and center where you can join large groups to talk about everything from sports to entertainment to gaming. Did you send a message you didn’t mean to send? You can quickly delete it as if nobody had ever seen it arrive. If you want to send a message and have it disappear quickly, a self-destruct timer can be added for increased privacy.
Adding to the privacy and security of the app are Trusted Contacts. Viber allows its users to verify the identity of anyone they are chatting with via a secret key exchange. If anything changes in the user’s contact list of people they communicate with, Viber lets you know. It’s a small but incredibly helpful security feature which should provide millions of Viber users some extra piece of mind. That you can also disable your online status and stay hidden when you want to is yet another reason to absolutely consider Viber as your Messenger alternative. The app itself is free, though international calls can be made at affordable rates.
Best of the Rest
If you want a true alternative to Messenger that is sure to include a large number of your friends, the four apps mentioned above are undoubtedly your best options. There are smaller, similar apps like Wickr Me, Wire, and Element. Each of these three apps include significant privacy steps to secure your chats but lack the user base size to be considered serious competitors. Of course, other less direct competitors exist, like iMessage, which offers strong encryption but is limited to Apple-only devices.
If you want to make a clean break from Facebook and its related apps, apps like Signal and Telegram offer the strongest competition. That’s on top of their large existing user base. For privacy, Signal is leading the pack and, while Telegram still offers security, Signal is a step above. At the end of the day, Signal is the best choice for anyone focused on privacy while Telegram is best for anyone who wants large groups.