Forget Facebook: Here are six other apps for staying in touch with friends
You can use plenty of other apps, some with encryption and a better history of keeping user data private
By Todd Haselton
If you’re tired of Facebook, or — like me — you have decided you don’t trust the company with your private data any longer, there are plenty of other ways to stay in touch with friends.
Here are six other ways to talk and keep your friends in the loop on apps that Facebook doesn’t own. (That means Instagram and WhatsApp are not in here, as Facebook owns both apps.)
Signal is an app I recommended recently in a guide on how to chat with encryption . It lets you talk privately with friends in a manner that’s much more secure than other options. End-to-end encryption means it’s harder for anyone to snoop on your conversations. It also has features that allow chats to delete themselves after a predetermined amount of time.
Snapchat has a younger-skewing audience but can still be a really fun way to talk with friends. Its focus on video clips allows you to send quick video snipped as you go about your day that expire after they’re viewed. There are filters, support for group chat, an option that lets you check in on real-time events on a map, and even news briefings.
This is my go-to for talking with friends. Like Signal, Apple ‘s iMessage supports end-to-end encryption if you’re talking to pals using iMessage on iPhones, iPads and Mac. Apple has added lots of “apps” into iMessage, too, so you can send money, buy movie tickets, add stickers to your chat, send your location and more. It’s fully featured but not ideal for Android users.
GroupMe is owned by Microsoft and is another app that’s designed for group chats. I use it to stay in touch with about 10 of my college friends, who are the folks that I’d rather keep updated on my day-to-day activities anyway. Most of what I’d post to Facebook goes right into my GroupMe chat. It’s where I now learn about my close friends’ new jobs, kids and big life changes.
If you want to send news about yourself out to the public, Twitter is a good alternative to Facebook for interacting with lots of people at once. It’s also my go-to app for learning about the news, since I follow established journalists and news outlets. If you do the same, you’re less likely to see so-called fake news that has popped up on Facebook recently. You can also keep your Twitter profile private, in case you only want your followers to see each post.
Google Allo isn’t very popular, but it’s still a really fun way for friends to stay in touch with groups of people. I use it to talk with old colleagues who use both Android and iPhone, since it has features similar to iMessage: It supports stickers and animations and has a fast user interface. It also has Google Assistant built in, which is fun if you want to find a place for a group of people to eat dinner. An incognito mode, which needs to be activated, enables encryption and the expiration of messages after a pre-determined amount of time.