Update: I have written a more updated blog post over on my blog. I would request to jump there and read it.
Ever since Edward Snowden let the world know that our greatest fears are indeed true and surveillance is rampant all around the world, there has been a rise in the number of encrypted services for various purposes like chats & email. But as with everything, one got to be careful to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. To help in this search I have personally used a lot of many messenger apps that I have compiled into a list.
Undoubtedly the number one on the list. Signal has been very popular among privacy enthusiasts & journalists because of its features and commitment. It provides the same easy signup and uses as WhatsApp while also offering the same level of encryption as WhatsApp but doesn’t log data as they(Facebook) do. Hell, even WhatsApp’s co-founder has invested significantly on this app. This app also doubles as your default SMS app. It’s almost the equivalent of iMessage on Android. But you need to remember that the encryption only works when both sender & recipient are on the same app. Apart from that, it also supports voice and video calls, all end-to-end encrypted (you will need to enable it though as it is not enabled by default because of slow transmission speeds). As we are hearing reports of Mark Zuckerberg trying to monetize WhatsApp, this might be a good alternative to switch.
This is a lesser known app but it is built by a company which focuses on privacy-first applications. The great thing about this app is that there are no passwords involved. You create your account by using your email ID to where it sends a long verification code. Once that’s done, it provides you with a recovery key which you must store carefully since without that you cannot get back into your account on any other devices. That’s right, there is no password recovery here since the encryption protocols mean that even SpiderOak cannot recover your account for you. Such is the privacy focus! It has beautifully designed apps for every popular platform on earth. The free plan gives you unlimited everything for up to 5 members.
Imagine Slack + Half Facebook + a strong focus on privacy. Keybase is like a small private social network which major focus on chats rather than anything else. The company says that its servers don’t leak files and it cannot be hacked. This app has become popular among developers all around the world. It also verifies the authenticity of a user by making users follow certain steps to prove their social media and website links. It’s available on all 3 Desktop OS, Android, iOS and even has Chrome/Firefox extension and is totally free to use.