A Look at Security and Privacy with Today’s Top Messaging Apps
When you need to send a short and quick message, a reliable instant messaging app does the job great. Messaging apps allow you to message contacts and add all kinds of media including photos, videos, stickers, and GIFs.
There are many messaging applications available, each with specific features and unique platforms. Some messaging apps allow chatting and video calling while some provide work only on a particular platform. Different messaging apps also offer different levels of security with some apps known to be safer than others.
Users must rely only on safe and efficient messaging apps for personal and business use. Let’s get to know the most popular messaging apps, their features, and how they handle user security in this messaging app guide.
The Most Popular Messaging Apps
Since the rise of smartphone usage, a myriad of low-cost to free messaging apps has become available. Users view these apps as a cheaper alternative to texting through SMS. With texts, you need to pay extra if you want to send a video, photo, or voice recording. With messaging apps, these features are already available for free. Here are the top messaging apps available today.
Based on an October 2021 report from Statista, the most popular messaging service is WhatsApp. This app is big in markets from outside the U.S. and these users make up for a large percentage of its 2 billion users monthly.
- Free messaging service
- You can use this app with an active phone number
- You can send media such as videos and photos
- Improve your messages using stickers, emojis, and GIFs
- Very easy to use
- With media sharing features
WhatsApp is very popular in almost all countries except for China, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar, and South Korea.
User Security and Safety
The amount of data that an app collects, the more at risk your security becomes. And with WhatsApp, it collects numerous data such as your device and user ID, purchase history, ad data, phone number, contacts, email address, location, performance data, diagnostic data, and crash data. WhatsApp also collects payment information which places your payment information at risk.
Facebook Messenger is a well-known messaging app that’s free to use if you have Facebook. This app provides chat services for private users and businesses. You can message your contacts directly or send media files like photos, videos, GIFs, and stickers. You can also attach documents and links to your messages. Messenger also allows video calling and group calling services.
- Free messaging services as long as you’re also a Facebook user
- Available in Messenger Lite, a lighter mobile app version
- Allows users to chat, voice call, and video call contacts
- You can send images, videos, documents, and other media
- You can forward messages and media to any of your contacts
- Use stickers, emojis, stickers, fun filters, and voice recording features
Facebook Messenger is popular among users located in North America and those that use an iOS smartphone. In Canada, almost half of the population uses Messenger.
User Security and Safety
Facebook Messenger collects user data to provide customized offers and services. Based on your searches on Facebook and Messenger, the app can provide personalized messenger ads and another service. Messenger more than any other messaging app on their mobile phones.
WeChat is a mobile messaging app that offers text messaging, broadcast messages, voice messaging, and conferencing. This messaging app also has features like video sharing, video gaming, and photograph features.
WeChat has millions of monthly active users all over the world and this number is expected to grow in the coming years. Aside from messaging, WeChat Pay is also available. This is a digital payment system with mini-programs.
- WeChat is a messaging app that offers video calling and conferencing
- With voice messaging and broadcast messaging features
- Is free to use no matter where you are
- Available on all mobile devices
WeChat is the most popular messaging app in China.
User Security and Safety
WeChat messages are analyzed, shared, and tracked by Chinese authorities. This is done upon request to comply with the government’s mass surveillance network. WeChat will censor all politically sensitive content.
Telegram is another widely used messaging app with additional features like group conversations, video calls, send media, and call contacts. It also has unique features like live location sharing, mute groups and contacts, secret chats, and auto-night mode. You can also customize the look of your Telegram interface according to your desired theme.
Telegram has around 550 million active users per month. Its userbase is growing and it’s expected to reach around a billion in 2022.
- You can make calls, video calls, group conversations, and send media.
- With unique features like secret chats, auto-night modes, mute contacts, location sharing, etc.
- Phone number migration, second phone number is allowed
- Customizable themes and interface
Telegram is very popular in East Europe. Ukraine and Russia use Telegram as their basic messaging app.
User Security and Safety
Telegram encrypts all messages by default however this only happens while the message is in transit from one device to the server. The messages are decrypted and accessed after arriving at Telegraph servers. End-to-end encryption is only available at Telegram’s secret chat which is only between two people.
Top Messaging Services Per Region
Data gathered by Respond.io helped identify the most popular messaging apps per region. In Western Europe, WhatsApp ranks first and Telegram is second. Signal, another popular app is widely used in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
WhatsApp is preferred in Central Europe while Messenger is second and Telegram the third. In Serbia and Greece, Viber is the top choice.
In Asia, WhatsApp grabbed first place with Telegram and Messenger as runners-up. In Indonesia, MiChat is the most popular while Thailand uses Line. WeChat is the best in China while QQ is their second choice.
Japanese use Line, Kakao Talk, and Messages from Google. In South Korea, Kakao Talk ranks first followed by Line and Telegram.
In Canada and the U.S., Messenger is the most popular while WhatsApp and Telegram rank second and third. In Central and South America, WhatsApp is king while Brazil, Mexico, and Columbia use WhatsApp and Telegram.
In Africa, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Telegram are the top three apps but there are other messaging apps available like Ayoba and Gem4Me. For Australian and New Zealand users, WhatsApp is the top messaging app.
Which is arguably the most secure for private messaging?
According to Tom’s Guide. Signal is the safest private messaging app. Surprisingly, Signal is not part of the most popular list but it is highly recommended for security-conscious individuals.
Signal is a free messaging service with voice call and group chatting services. Your messages will be encrypted from end to end so it’s impossible to spy on any message. It has a unique self-destruct feature that may be set to erase messages after a certain time. And because of Signal’s strong data encryption measures, this protocol is also used by other messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.
New and exciting apps continue to emerge which will change the way people live and do business. Apps like messaging apps help people keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones. Businesses use messaging apps to communicate with clients and customers.
A good messaging app must not just deliver expectations but must also be safe and secure. Whether you’re in business or you’re using messaging apps as a private user, be sure to weigh the benefits and the downsides of an app before adopting it as your preferred messaging tool.
Pranjal Bora works as Head of Product Development at Digital Authority Partners.
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