In a time when most of our communications happen online, having accounts on different chat apps is important to stay connected and accessible.
It's normal for social media and chat platforms to experience outages and issues, and these usually only last for a few hours. But if we're going to experience shutdowns for longer periods of time—like the six-hour Facebook apps blackout on Oct. 4 and the 24-hour Facebook outage in 2019—it's better to have alternative apps on the ready. This way, you can keep in touch with family members, friends, colleagues, and more through any platform.
Sure, Messenger and WhatsApp have been our go-to apps for instant messaging, but there are other chat apps out there with even more features than Facebook's apps. Here are some alternative apps that will serve you well.
While Facebook's WhatsApp was down, Telegram trended on Twitter and saw many people joining its 500 million active user base. This popular WhatsApp alternative allows you to share images, videos, and files through mobile and desktop.
What sets Telegram further apart from most chat apps is that it lets you join group chats and channels with up to 100,000 participants.
While it does not offer end-to-end encryption by default, you can start an e2e-encrypted conversation by creating "Secret Chats." Messages in this chat will self-destruct after a specific time.
End-to-end encryption means your chat can only be read by you and the recipient—no potential eavesdroppers like telecom or internet providers.
Another alternative is Viber, which you only need a phone number to set up—no emails or passwords needed. Among its features are default end-to-end encryption for secure and protected messaging, free phone and video calls, and community channels.
There's also a "Viber Out" feature, which lets you call mobile numbers that aren't on Viber and landline phones for a certain fee. You can call virtually anyone with your desktop Viber app, too, with this feature.
For security and safety nuts, there's Signal. End-to-end encryption is assured in this app plus you can choose how long your messages and conversations are available.
Signal has a mobile and desktop version and on Android, users can set this as their default SMS app.
An app popular among gamers, Discord is a group chatting platform that allows you to create servers that you can divide by topics, rules, and channels. This platform is basically a hangout place where you can listen to music and watch videos together with your friends.
While it's intended for community use, Discord is usable for daily conversations, too. In addition, you don't need a phone number to sign up, just an email. To add contacts, you also just need to share your username.
The only paid app of this bunch, Threema promises complete privacy. It offers security features such as not storing your contact list in the app, deleting messages as soon as they're delivered, end-to-end encryption, a secure in-app browser, and an option to add a pin to protect others from getting in the app.
You also won't need to share your phone number to connect with others on Threema—you only need your eight-digit app ID.