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If You’re Thinking of Quitting WhatsApp, Now is the Time

Privacy and security are more in demand than ever. Sorry, WhatsApp, it’s not you, it’s us.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

WhatsApp is without a doubt THE biggest messaging platform on the planet with over two billion users. From Gibraltar to Indonesia, WhatsApp is the main messaging app that everybody uses. However, as you may have read, a few weeks ago WhatsApp forced its users to agree to its updated terms to sharing all of their data with Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company. When I saw this requirement, I immediately thought that it was time for WhatsApp and myself to part ways. We had outgrown this relationship. And as the saying goes, “It’s not you, it’s me….” I do not want my data shared with Facebook, I don’t want those two apps to be linked. There is a reason why I did not install FB messenger on my phone. If I wanted my messaging service and FB to be linked, I would have simply downloaded FB messenger.

My main concern was the fact that users were not given a choice to opt-out of sharing their data. It’s one of those “Either you’re with us or you’re against us” moments. And I, along with so many others out there, felt that we did not want our arm twisted into using WhatsApp. Due to the backlash, WhatsApp decided to delay this policy for a few months. But everyone seems to agree that this was too little too late. In recent weeks, I have seen an exodus of my colleagues and friends moving mostly to Telegram, while some are moving to Signal. I prefer Signal because it was made by the founder of WhatsApp. Not only that, Elon Musk highly recommended Signal and that’s good enough for me.

There have been many comparisons of course between Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, all discussing the encryption type each app has and the pros and cons. But so far, I’ve never read a comparison that is aimed at laymen that are not fluent in tech talk such as myself. There are many like me who just want to know which app is safe and best to use. What people fail to remember is that using a messaging app highly depends on your location. What works in China might not be the best choice to use if you’re living in Thailand. What is popular in the US might not be what works in Dubai. So on top of all the tech and security specifications, we have to be realistic and consider which app is best to be used based on where you are living or headed to.

WeChat

It’s a public secret that when venturing into China, there is only one messaging app that rules them all. Yup, you guessed it WeChat. A few years back, I used WeChat to communicate with a friend of mine who frequently went to China for business. Messaging wise, WeChat is your standard messaging app similar to Whatsapp and Telegram. But the one thing that sets it apart is that you can use it to make payments using WeChat Pay. Paying with QR codes is big in China. It’s literally everywhere and in every store, including food stalls along the street. When I visited China, I hardly saw anyone paying in cash. Everyone paid with their phones.

Not only that, if I recall correctly, all other apps don’t work in China unless you use a VPN on your phone to access it. I went to China a few years ago and I remember that my Whatsapp didn’t work when I was out sightseeing. I had to be in a well-connected place such as the hotel I was staying at or Starbucks and also had to turn on my VPN. So if you are doing a lot of business in China or travel frequently there, WeChat is definitely the way to go!

Line

Line is unique. In a sense that It is highly favored by the Japanese and Thais. Here in my country, Line is used mostly by Gen Z. They like to use Line for the news feed and also for the many online shops that are on Line. I personally can’t stand Line for that very reason. The constant notifications either regarding news or new items being added. And then having to manage the settings to avoid getting all of the said notifications. For me, it was too much noise and notifications so I never use it. But if you have lots of friends that live in Thailand or Japan or you just like to get your news from your messaging app, then Line is definitely the way to go.

Telegram

Telegram was founded by a man who is known as the Zuckerberg of Russia. After WhatsApp imposed the new privacy policy, most users would jump to either Telegram or Signal. In my country, many people made the move from WhatsApp to Telegram. However, the case seems to be that people still keep their WhatsApp for work-related purposes and then use Telegram for private conversations. I have used Telegram several times before but at that time, not many of my friends used it. And now, with so many of my contacts being on Telegram, I feel that Telegram has become a second WhatsApp and I opted to join Signal instead and ask my friends who are not on Signal to download it.

Based on the fact that Telegram has had 500 Million downloads in the last few weeks means that it is being used everywhere in the world. So if you want an app to replace WhatsApp that is being widely used around the world, Telegram is a good option considering its soaring popularity.

Viber

The official name is Rakuten-Viber. You guessed it, another messaging app hailing from Japan. Around a decade ago, pre-WhatsApp, Viber was popular with iPhone users to whom it offered free calls. It also gained popularity in the Middle East. These days Viber has lost its popularity due to WhatsApp. It is making a come back in the Philippines and India. In the Philippines, Viber is rolling out chatbot payments through its app and also the ability to order food through its FoodPh.

So if you are planning to move to either of those countries or have lots of business relations there, it would be good to have Viber on your phone.

Wickr

This one, I’ve never even heard of until a CTO friend of mine mentioned it to me when I informed him I was planning to write about Whatsapp alternatives. I don’t know anyone in my network or friends who uses Wickr to be honest. Its website features a US army soldier on its landing page, right dab as the first pic in its carousel. The website also informs us they take security very seriously, we’re talking military-grade encryption here. Since I’ve never used this app nor do I know anyone who does, based on the information available, I can sum up that Wickr is the messaging app to use if you work with highly sensitive and classified information in a company that stands to lose A LOT of money if anything gets compromised or lives could be lost.

Then again, call me old school but if you do work in such a company, handling super-sensitive data, I’d stick to using an old series Nokia that is not a smartphone. In case you haven’t watched Money Heist, old school such as paper and non-smart phones are not hackable. If you need to talk to someone, meet up with them in person, all documents kept in the office. Like I said, I’m old school. But I guess Wickr is that extra protection for those who need it.

With the many choices out there, safe to say, WhatsApp has been dethroned. As the saying goes “All good things must come to an end”…..

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