Comparing Instant Messaging Platforms: Which One Prioritizes Your Privacy?

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Instant messaging is a quick and effective way of communicating with a friend or colleague. People use instant messaging platforms for all sorts of reasons whether it is to connect to someone you haven’t seen in a long time or to discuss an important upcoming project for your company. No matter why you are using instant messaging, you want to know your data is safe. 

Yet, with so many companies on the market, which one prioritizes your privacy? 

We have compiled a list of the top 10 instant messaging platforms. We will discuss the pros and cons of each and explain how each one of these popular chat apps handles your privacy. 

What Should You Look For in a Secure Instant Messaging Platform?

When you are considering choosing an instant messaging app, you need to think about its security features. You will want to make sure that the app you are using is taking precautions to keep your information safe.

End-to-end encryption is when your message data is encrypted when sent and received. This protects your information from basic hacking. 

You’ll also want to check that your instant messaging app is private. Private messaging ensures that only the person you intend to get the message is reading the message. 

Another great feature of secure instant messaging platforms is disappearing messages. Some people enjoy this feature while others do not. Disappearing messages prevents people from hacking your past messages and getting your information, but it also makes it difficult for you to retrieve your previous messages if you have information you’d like to go back to unless they are backed up in the cloud.

When evaluating different instant messaging platforms, you may want to check if they do any data sharing. Certain companies share your information with third parties to track your buying and app usage habits. This can be an invasion of privacy and lead to a lack of cybersecurity. 

For a secure instant messaging platform, you’ll want to do some research on the company to make sure they have a reputation for security. If the instant messaging app continuously has data breaches, you should probably try another platform. 

Also, photo and file sharing should be easy and secure.

Two-step authentication is another security feature you should look for. When an app offers this, they are adding another gate to protect your messages from being hacked. With two-step authentication, someone who accesses your account has to have answers to security questions or access to another one of your devices to get into your account. 

A person accessing social media on their smart phone.

Other Instant Messaging Features to Consider

In addition to security, you’ll want a messaging app that provides multimodal communication. Multi-modal communication refers to the ability to private message, group message, and/or video call all on the same app. Versatility gives you plenty of options for communication, whether you’re working on a collaborative business project or planning your dad’s birthday party.

You’ll also want to check that your instant messaging app is compatible with iOS, Android, and web applications. Compatibility will ensure you and your recipient can access the same instant messaging platform together. 

You also want a user-friendly messaging app. There’s nothing worse than an interface that is difficult to navigate. You want to balance functionality with security. 

Top 9 Instant Messaging Platforms

Let’s evaluate some of the most popular instant messaging platforms. We’ll see what they have to offer in terms of security and features. Each has its pros and cons for communicating with your friends and coworkers in real-time.

1. WhatsApp

This social app is a trending instant messaging platform. It is owned by Facebook and free to use. It is available for download on every major platform. WhatsApp is easy to use as both a mobile app and a desktop application. 

With Whatsapp, you can send messages, make voice calls, and host video calls. You can share photos and videos with up to 256 users at once. They do not store data on their server. Customers are also able to remove their conversations from Cloud backup. 

This application uses encryption and two-step verification. This app is also widely used by over a billion people, which makes it easy to communicate with others.

However, Facebook has a reputation for questionable data practices. In 2019, Facebook didn’t notify over 530 million users that their personal data was in a breach. This information may make you hesitant to consider this app with good reason.

Another popular messaging app run by Facebook is Facebook Messenger. This application does not have the best reputation for security. 

2. iMessage

Apple users can enjoy this secure messaging app. This application is mostly used for text messages. iMessage allows you to block and unblock contacts. You can also leave group chats or mute notifications. There is end-to-end encryption to ensure security. Also, with new updates, you can even edit and delete messages once you send them. 

Your message data is stored in the cloud and controlled by Apple. So, your data is reliant on the security of iCloud. 

The app runs off the internet rather than your phone service, so it is free for Mac and iOS users. You can also customize your messages with GIFs, emojis, and animations.

However, because this is an Apple-supported product, there are limitations. Android users cannot use iMessage. Any messages received from Android users come to users as an SMS.

3. Slack

If you are looking for a workplace communication platform, Slack is an excellent choice. With Slack, you can chat one-on-one, but it works best for team communication. You can divide your communication amongst different channels to help you divide tasks in a project into smaller teams. 

You can instant message, share files, and host video conferencing. You can use both voice commands and traditional typing to send your messages.  It has integrations with other tools and software, search functions, and you can tailor your notifications to your needs.

Slack is also one of the first instant messaging platforms that uses bots. Bots wait for messages with trigger words and send simple responses. Many people worry that bots are insecure. Yet, they are simply customizable tools. You can ask the bot questions and receive answers. The bot can also store answers or remind you of events. 

However, this platform can sometimes be overwhelming due to its many features. Since there is a constant flow of messages, it can be distracting, and the SlackBot can become a way for workers to play pranks or waste time.

The Slack app is free, but for advanced security, you’ll have to purchase Slack Pro. 

4. Threema

Threema is considered a trusted open-source messaging app. Their server automatically deletes messages once they are received. The chat messages are also managed locally on the user’s device. So, Threema provides a secure messaging service with options for anonymous chatting, secret chats with password protection, and no need to provide email or phone numbers.

Since this is an open-source mobile device app and web application, users can detect and remove threats. 

However, if you have Threema, you can only message other Threema users. This communication platform is more vulnerable to advanced hackers. Additionally, the app does not support two-factor authentication. 

5. Telegram

This cloud-based service provider has several features for the security conscious. You can have secret chats with self-destructing messages. You can also choose to turn on and off end-to-end encryption for chats so that you have control of your level of security. 

You can sync messages across devices and applications.  Telegram is used for the workplace, social media, and personal messaging mainly in China, Russia, Iran, and India. The app with free with no ads. There are also similar apps such as WeChat that are popular for using similar methods as Telegram.

The downside is that the client-side code is open source and since encryption isn’t default, you can forget to turn it on and become more vulnerable to threats. 

6. Viber

Viber can be a very secure messaging and calling app for mobile devices and desktop applications. It is unique in that it uses color coding to indicate the level of encryption for each message. Here are the color codes:

  • Green: The chat has been encrypted and the recipient is trusted.
  • Grey: The chat has been encrypted but the recipient doesn’t meet the trusted criteria.
  • Red: There is an issue with the authentication of the recipient. 

This unique color-coding system helps you to see whether or not you are speaking to a secure user. 

Viber provides you with several communication tools like video chats and voice messaging in groups with unlimited users and the ability to delete seen messages. You can also use a wide variety of emojis, GIFs, animations, and stickers to communicate.

The service is free of cost and compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. It has over 1 billion users, mostly in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The only downside is that if you don’t share your messages properly, you could compromise your security. 

7. Wire

Wire is an open-source, publicly audited app that has its source code available on GitHub for the public to critique. Wire offers free and paid options. Wire Personal provides you with private and group messaging, file sharing, and voice and video calls. 

There is always end-to-end encryption, and you can set your messages to self-destruct. They also provide two-step authentication. 

The paid version is great for businesses and pricing begins at about $7.65 per month. This app is compatible with most web browsers, Android, and iOS. The largest user base of this app is in Germany, Switzerland, and other European countries for financial services.

Yet, Wire is geared more towards businesses than personal use. It is also limited to users who use Wire, so there is no communication between services. 

8. Snapchat

Used mostly as a social networking app, Snapchat’s millions of users enjoy the app’s private and group messaging options. There are loads of ways to record videos, use filters, add stickers and emojis, and record sounds. You can even customize an avatar to look like you and change its clothes and background.

Yet, this app is one of the least secure messaging apps out there. Even though the app deletes chats and lets the sender know if a picture has been shared or screenshot, there are still plenty of ways that your messages can get into the hands of the wrong recipients. 

Information such as your username, profile picture, in-app purchase history, message content, filter usage, and location can all be collected and shared with third parties through this instant message operating system. 

Although popular and fun, this is not a secure communication option for someone looking for a private conversation. 

9. SekurMessager

If you want to stay away from big tech companies, SekurMessanger provides fully private instant chats with no hidden storage or data mining. We also have 100% end-to-end encryption. You can even have encrypted chats with non-Sekur users. The chats self-destruct across all devices and the server is encrypted and routed through Switzerland only, to provide you with a safe way of communicating with family, friends, and coworkers. You can communicate via private chat or voice recording. You can also share files. You can create private circles and add contacts using a private SM ID. 

Sekur is compatible with iOS, Android, and most web browsers. Because our servers are based in Switzerland, you have the added security of strict data privacy laws.

No phone number is required, so there is no address book data mining. Your sensitive information stays secure. 

A person instant messaging on their phone.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of instant messaging apps out there, but when it comes to your privacy, it is important to choose one with a reputation for security. When choosing an instant messenger platform, remember to consider whether or not the application provided message encryption, two-factor authentication, data protection, the ability to delete messages, and multiple user-friendly features.

Whether you are using instant messaging for work or personal matters, keeping your private communications safe is a top priority. 

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