Open Source Messengers: Alternatives to WhatsApp
Digital communication has become indispensable. Professional and private life is shared via messenger and enables an exchange regardless of location. How individual messengers handle the messages, images, audio and files sent is therefore a fundamental question that every user should address.
This is not the first time that the social messenger service WhatsApp has come under criticism for its data protection policy. At the latest with the acquisition by Facebook, concerns about data security have repeatedly become part of the public debate.
As of May 15, new data protection rules will come into effect at Whatsapp in Germany, which will allow WhatsApp to share the data of its users with Facebook and pass it on to third parties outside the EU.
We are currently reading a lot about Telegram as an alternative. Since messages can be sent to several thousand people at the same time, the Dubai-based messenger has become the preferred communication channel for conspiracy theorists. It is often declared as open source, but only the client is open and the data is stored on unknown servers; the messages are not end-to-end encrypted.
So the question to leave Whatsapp remains open. In the following, we therefore present five open-source alternatives to WhatsApp that take the privacy of their users more seriously:
Movim is based on XMPP, the open standard for messaging. Web-based and decentralized, it can communicate with other applications via XMPP. In addition to the typical messenger functions, such as chats, video chats, editing options and night mode, Movim also offers the options of screen sharing, browsing hashtags, automatically saving message drafts or publishing articles.
Like WhatsApp, Session offers a chat function, group chats, voice messages, and end-to-end encryption of chats. Unlike WhatsApp, however, no phone number is needed to use it. Session is blockchain-based and decentralized.
Similar to Session, Element does not require a phone number for the common messenger functions. In addition to chat, video chat and telephony, Element also offers the option of joining private or public groups. Element operates decentralized via matrix network.
No phone number is needed to use Threema either. Telephony, video chats, and chats that can be provided with polls are end-to-end encrypted. Likewise, groups can be created and managed. The app comes from Switzerland, which is known for its excellent data protection.
Signal is particularly impressive due to its user-friendliness. The app offers the usual messenger functions (chats, group chats, video chats, telephony), which are all end-to-end encrypted, and does not collect any data except for the phone number.
So there are some alternatives to WhatsApp that not only offer better data protection, but are also openly available. The decision between switching completely or using several messengers depends on the individual situation. But the argument that you can no longer reach all your contacts without WhatsApp will become invalid as soon as enough people use open alternatives. So get active and switch to open source!
You can find all information in a tabular overview in our Toolbox – just search for “messenger”..