If you are Zimbabwean and own a smartphone, it’s almost a given that you use WhatsApp for your messaging needs. You kind of have to, everyone else does and most can only be reached on the messaging platform.
WhatsApp gained this kind of popularity because it is cheap, like free to use cheap if one has internet access. This was compounded when the MNOs here in the third world introduced WhatsApp data bundles effectively making it cheaper to use the messenger. Net neutrality was killed in the process but most couldn’t care less about that.
WhatsApp also offers some security as it offers end-to-end encryption. You can rest assured that no one but you and the recipient of your message get to read the message. Not even WhatsApp employees can view your chats.
If you yearn for some change or God forbid, for some reason you cannot access WhatsApp, something like WhatsApp shutting down shop, you would want to know what options you have. Let us look at those.
Yet another messaging app from the guys that own WhatsApp and like WhatsApp the messages are secure. If you want end-to-end encryption on Messenger you have to make use of the Secret Conversations option.
To do that just tap the details/options icon (the ‘i’) in the top right corner and choose Secret Conversations. Not only will your messages be encrypted end-to-end, you will also be able to choose to make the messages disappear after a a time passage of your choosing, from just 5 seconds to a day.
With Messenger you also have the advantage of cheaper access as there are Facebook bundles available.
Download Messenger here.
Signal Private Messenger
You might have heard about Open Whisper Systems, who developed the Signal Protocol which is a cryptographic protocol that can be used to provide end-to-end encryption for voice calls, video calls, and instant messaging conversations.
The Signal Protocol is used by both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Open Whisper Systems however does also have an application of their own called Signal Private Messenger. No prize for guessing it is privacy focused. There obviously is end-to-end encryption and goes a step further and does not record message metadata.
The app is also beautifully designed and easy to use.
Download Signal Private Messenger here.
You cannot not include Telegram otherwise you will be eaten alive by the messaging app’s loyal fans. You know those Telegram fans who always make sure to remind everyone that their app got the features first whenever WhatsApp announce new features.
And they are right, Telegram usually gets fancy features quicker than WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption no exception. However Telegram uses an in-house developed encryption algorithm whose source code is not open like the Signal Protocol.
Signal Protocol being open source means security experts can check it for vulnerabilities unlike Telegram’s MTProto.
Download Telegram here
There are many other messaging apps that are easy to use and secure enough to replace WhatsApp but with the data prices we have here in Zimbabwe it would behoove you to decide on one option with your contacts so that you won’t have to download multiple apps.
If it gets to the point where there is no internet access whatsoever, then we go back to SMS and good old voice calls. Who knows how secure our conversations will be there.
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