Last update: 05.15.2019

If you use WhatsApp, you probably enjoy its slick interface and easy means of messaging your contacts. With chat history ready to view, conversation history and the ability to send vids, photos, gifs and more, its a great way to keep in contact with friends, family and business associates on the go.

WhatsApp security concerns

However, WhatsApp security has been a concern for a while. In May 2019, an Israeli company NSO Group managed to exploit a security flaw that allows remotely installing surveillance software on the targeted phone. While Facebook has issued an update, it remains unclear if it removes the spyware and, most importantly, what can this software do with your smartphone.

When Facebook bought the mobile messaging service, Zuckerberg promised users that they could continue to expect total privacy and ownership of their data. Since then, of course, Facebook finds itself under ongoing scrutiny for shady practices that look to have compromised user privacy and security across all of its platforms. These WhatsApp security fears mean that a lot of previously enthusiastic users are now looking for messaging alternatives.

The fact is, privacy keeps being removed from WhatsApp under the guise of analytical data. Whether or not your personal data is being mined and being prepared for sale to advertisers is unknown. However, for most of us, the prospect of poor WhatsApp security in the age of growing cyber safety fears means that it’s time to look elsewhere.

With that in mind, here are our 7 favorite messenger alternatives to WhatsApp in 2019.

1. Wire

Find it on: the web and Android.

Benefits:
A clear interface and encryption from start to finish. Wire is rapidly winning fans when it comes to secure messaging, which is unsurprising given that it’s the brainchild of Janus Friis, the co-founder of Skype. It’s particularly noticeable for its smart design as well as privacy credentials which vastly exceed WhatsApp security levels.

Things to know:
You’ll need to use your email or mobile number to begin using the app. This data isn’t shared though, as you’ll simply use a username to communicate.

We particularly like:
The timed message feature, which allows you to “self-destruct” messages after a 5 second to 1 day period has elapsed.

2. LINE

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
You may be unfamiliar with LINE, but this app is the biggest competitor of WhatsApp. It boasts a fantastic feature array, including an endless array of stickers and the ability to make conference calls. It is also light on data use, especially compared to WhatsApp, going light on data when you make calls.

Things to know:
LINE was developed by a Japanese development team who invested heavily in a powerful set of features.

We particularly like:
The very clean interface which is customizable to your preferences. It also has excellent end-to-end encryption.

3. KIK Messenger

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
The app is free and doesn’t store your data (e.g., phone number). In fact, your only identifier is your username. All messaging data is housed on your phone, locally, so you are responsible for managing your privacy.

Things to know:
KIK garnered a bit of a “mixed” reputation in recent years as the app of choice for drug dealing, petty crime, and sexting – amongst other things – so one thing you can be sure of is its privacy credentials!

We particularly like:
The fact that this app is basically unmoderated, making it ideal if you are conscious about privacy and keen to set your own processes in place for security.

4. Telegram

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
This is a true alternative to WhatsApp in terms of features and scope. You’ll instantly notice that the video and voice message facilities are similar and that there are plenty of emojis, sticker, channels, groups and chatbots on offer.

Things to know:
You can also use Telegram on the desktop app version, or via a web chat application, so you can make use of it when working on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

We particularly like:
Telegram makes a point of respecting user privacy, with end-to-end encryption and log in via your phone number only.

5. Wickr Me

Find it on: Android

Benefits:
This is apparently the messaging app preferred by politicians, journalists and other global movers and shakers who are keen to converse privately. It doesn’t store any of your contacts on its servers, allows you to delete messages permanently and irretrievably if you wish and also doesn’t store any metadata.

Things to know:
Again, the app uses your phone number as a log-in, and it has a fun data set of emojis, stickers and more.

We particularly like:
That Wickr Me is free, has no advertising and offers excellent data encryption – putting WhatsApp security attempts firmly in the shade by comparison.

6. Signal

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
Built for iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac OS, Chrome and Linux, this messenger service offers telephone number based registration and private communication. Your number is just the ID and not the transmission point – meaning that you can avoid any SMS or MMS fees.

Things to know:
This is an open-sourced model and offers excellent features, including emojis and stickers.

We particularly like:
Great end-to-end encryption features and a simple, user-friendly interface.

7. Kontalk

Find it on: PC and Android

Benefits:
With Kontalk, you can host your own service, WhatsApp style! It’s basically an open alternative service based on XMPP, which means you can host it privately on your own server.

Things to know:
Kontalk is available as a Google Play app, an F-Droid store app, and a desktop client format. This gives you real flexibility over customizing your solution.

We particularly like:
The ultimate in privacy, the open XMPP format of this app means that you are totally in charge of your chat privacy

Bottom line

WhatsApp is still a great messaging service feature-wise, but WhatsApp security concerns mean that many people have turned away with it. As a result, Facebook has invested in plenty of enticing features, but many users now accept that it is, essentially, an advertiser’s data farm.

If privacy is something that you value online, one of these alternative apps may be better, and you might consider switching to one for better control over your security. Yes, you will find that every app here has its own set of pros and cons, but at least you can rest easy in the knowledge that you aren’t providing any data inadvertently to Facebook.