If you have a smartphone in this day and age, you probably send your texts through various apps and your carrier.
But Houston, we have a problem: free texting actually comes at a cost. And most of the time, that cost is your privacy.
However, there are some apps out there that care about protecting your data. So, keep on reading to discover 10 of the safest messaging apps.
Messaging apps collect a lot of information
Almost all apps collect data on their users, but there’s a fine line between optimization and privacy invasion.
Just like plenty of other tech companies, messaging businesses claim to collect your data to optimize their apps and serve you better. According to them, the more information they have on you, the better the software.
However, they also make a profit from selling user data to third parties. Look no further than the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Messaging apps can track information like:
- Your location,
- Your timestamps,
- Your screen time,
- The content of your conversations,
- And more.
But if you want to stay safe and have your private conversations be private, it all begins with the messaging app you choose.
Let’s see what you should be paying attention to.
The 10 best messaging apps for your privacy
If you’re about to pick a messaging app, start with the basics.
Here are 10 messaging apps worthy of your attention.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video calling, and VoIP service. Developed by the same people behind the popular Russian social media platform, VK, Telegram moved its headquarters in different countries throughout the years and is now based in Dubai.
With over 400 million active monthly users, the app is available on operating systems like iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The reason Telegram is one of the best messaging apps for privacy is because it uses end-to-end encryption to keep conversations and group chats anonymous and indecipherable. But file-sharing, videos, and photos are not encrypted.
One important aspect: desktop apps do not support chat encryption at all.
Wire markets itself as being “the most secure collaboration platform.”
Just like Telegram, Wire also uses end-to-end encryption to make sure its users’ conversations and data stay secure and private. But unlike Telegram, Wire also encrypts videos, photos, and the files you share.
The company claims to be 100% transparent with users, and it has an open-sourced platform.
Wire is available on Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, and browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera.
Threema is a secure Swedish messaging app.
Developed by the Swiss company Threema GmbH., the app doesn’t even require your phone number or your contacts’ details. And of course, it uses end-to-end encryption for your conversations and files.
Threema’s motto is “privacy by design.” The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones.
Wickr is an American software company based in San Francisco. The company develops and provides multiple instant messaging services, all under the same name.
The app focuses on secure video conference calls as a collaboration platform. You can pick between Wickr Me, Wickr Pro, Wickr RAM, and Wickr Enterprise, depending on what best fits your needs.
Wickr is available for all major operating systems, including iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks.
CoverMe is one of the oldest secure messaging apps, surpassing even Telegram in their age.
Like most private IM applications, the software uses end-to-end encryption to hide and protect your conversations and voice calls. It also offers a private vault feature that encrypts files like videos, photos, and passwords so no one can invade your privacy.
CoverMe is available only on mobile, iOS, and Android.
As a cross-platform messaging software, Viber has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
The company is owned by the Japanese conglomerate Rakuten and ever since 2017; it’s been based in Luxembourg.
Viber has plenty of useful privacy features, and it offers end-to-end encryption for text conversations and voice calls.
Formerly known as SMSecure, Silence is another free, open-sourced chat app that is privacy-oriented.
What makes Silence special is that it uses end-to-end encryption for online chats and offline, traditional, text messages.
Unfortunately, Silence is only available on F-Droid and Google Play.
Line is another free messaging app built around offering privacy. The app has a “Letter Sealing” feature that encrypts your text messages, audio, and video files.
Line is available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, but also for BlackBerry OS and Firefox OS.
Created by Whisper Systems after two previous other privacy-oriented messaging apps, Signal was bought by Twitter in 2011.
The app is free, and it uses open-sourced software. Just like the other names featured here, Signal also encrypts your texts, videos, and audio conversations.
Signal is available for all mobile platforms, as well as Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Dust is a free app available on iOS and Android that uses a mix of AES 128 and RSA 248 encryption protocols to keep your data secure.
Dust also allows you to permanently delete your messages without having them stored on your phone or the company’s servers.
The messaging apps you should avoid
Now that you know more about the messaging industry’s best practices, here are some apps you should think twice before installing on your devices.
Facebook and privacy don’t really go together. Even if the app offers encryption and auto-delete features, Facebook’s past as a company indicates a lack of respect for people’s privacy.
If you need more arguments for this, watch the Social Dilemma documentary. It might be a wake-up call to you.
Afterward, if you’re ready to take the plunge and delete your Facebook permanently, our step-by-step guide has you covered.
Also, just a word of caution: Facebook also owns WhatsApp. And even though the app is encrypted, you might want to reconsider using it.
Skype, that’s part of Microsoft, also uses end-to-end encryption for audio calls, send text messages, image, audio, and video files.
But the company has been named in the Edward Snowden revelations and accused of providing the National Security Agency with access to encrypted messages.
This openness to working with the authorities is surprising, especially since Skype is headquartered in Luxembourg.
Kik is a popular messaging app that allows users to send private and group messages.
However, the app has been labelled as dangerous, given that it’s also popular with sexual predators. At the very least, make sure your kids stay away from it.
A solution to encrypt your smartphone data
To add an extra layer of safety to your apps, consider using a VPN provider.
A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, safely encrypts your internet traffic and changes your IP address. This way, snoopers can’t track your movements online. VPNs also block your Internet Service Provider, hackers, and pesky advertisers from peaking at your conversations.
To stay protected online, try CyberGhost VPN. The service offers robust encryption protocols, a strict no-logs policy, and easy-to-use apps for all operating systems, including Android and iOS. Plus, you’re covered by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
What are the messaging apps you like to use to keep your conversations private?
Let me know in the comments below!