There may soon come a time when one of the biggest instant messaging app WhatsApp become a thing of the past. Users may uninstall it for their own good. All thanks to the endless and heart-wrenching cases that became the talk of the town because of the fake inflammatory messages that circulated on WhatsApp. In short, a WhatsApp message can get you killed!
Rumours on WhatsApp are leading to deaths in India. Messages in circulation these days often talk about child lifters, cattle suppliers, murderers selling body parts, robbers and what not which ultimately lead to lynching, mob violence and numerous innocent deaths. Victims in different parts of India includes a 55-year-old woman innocently offering sweets to a child; a man who unknowingly entered a mango orchard and didn’t speak the local language; a transgender person in Hyderabad; a man wandering aimlessly in a village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Who kills on such petty reasons? Unfortunately, it did happened in our country. To talk more on this, a text circulating in Madhya Pradesh resulted in beating of two young men by a mob of about 50 people rumoured to be sellers of body parts. Five people were killed in Maharashtra’s Dhule district after being suspected of gang members of a child lifting gang. A 40-year old woman was beaten to death on the suspicion of being a child lifter. The list just don’t stop here!
Fake news and videos have become an incredibly big headache for the government in power here as well as for WhatsApp itself. The deaths and the misuse of WhatsApp continue, as the Indian government and WhatsApp have not been able to stop fake rumours on WhatsApp. However, the Indian government has asked WhatsApp to take necessary steps to prevent the circulation of such false content that have led to this series of killings across the country in the past one year. WhatsApp responded saying it was horrified at the lynching and innumerable deaths taking place because of the security loopholes and misuse of its services. WhatsApp do came out with measures to end the spread of fake news by introducing new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded. However, we wonder the addition of new features can alone help curb the menace it had already created. So just as precautionary measures to save you from being held accountable for the information you never circulated on any group as admin, we offer you three alternatives to keep away from fake news and other inappropriate content.
1. Telegram –
No doubt, WhatsApp is the the leader of instant messaging today but Telegram with it’s far secure features is not too far behind. Founded by Pavel Durov from Russia in August 2013, Telegram took birth because of startling revelations by Edward Snowden stating the extent of the state-sponsored surveillance in the United States. For record, by the year 2014, Telegram was the most downloaded iPhone app in 48 countries. Let us discover why Telegram will be the new WhatsApp to us:
• Well, privacy takes a centre stage here. Privacy is crucial for many users and Telegram offers that. The app allows users to create secret chats giving you the control on how long you want your messages to last, and once the time is up, the message will disappear thus not allowing further forwarding or taking screenshots. The end-to-end encryption with chats also leave no trace on Telegram’s servers. Hence, Telegram is seriously secure.
• The size of file sharing is limited on WhatsApp. Telegram, on the other hand, allows heavy files to be transferred with an option to decide upon the size (whether as a file or as a photo). This means one can share files and videos in any format that you choose to share.
• Telegram offers one to add up to 1,00,000 members in one group whereas, WhatsApp limits groups to 256 members.
• Beyond regular emojis, Telegram comes up with stickers that makes your chats more fun and interesting.
• Changing your phone number is easier on Telegram than on WhatsApp.
• Telegram offers you to be really cool with friends by allowing multiple languages while messaging. It’s easy to have your phone in one language and Telegram in another. Isn’t that really cool?
Well, there are more such amazing features this app has to offer to you. Go on and give it a try. Surely, you won’t be disappointed!
2. Hike –
Hike is India’s own social and technology company that came into the business about 5 years ago in December 2012. Founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike in addition to text messaging offers users send each other graphical stickers, emoticons, images, videos, audios, files, voice messages, contacts and user location. Users can also stay updated with news, cricket scores and jokes in an easily consumable format.
Talking in terms of privacy, Hike offers you the freedom and safety to chat with people only you have added them in your list. Unlike WhatsApp, no random people will be able to send you messages simply by having your phone number in their contact list. What makes Hike a must is its offline message feature. Here, you will be prompted with an option to send the message using free SMS or your carrier’s regular SMS as the person you intend to send messages has no internet connectivity (in short, he/she is offline). This saves time in situations of emergency.
To ensure further privacy and avoid getting your files and messages from becoming vulnerable, Hike allows users to keep any particular chat that they may want private. These can only be accessed using a code by its genuine user. In terms of sharing files, you can send videos, images and music as well as voice notes in any formats with sizes up to 100 MB. WhatsApp as we know allows only up to 16 MB. Hike also has an option for payments, including mobile recharges and peer-to-peer transfers.
3. Signal –
Unbelievably, Signal is the best app you can use if you want to ensure privacy at its best. Owned by the software organisation Open Whisper Systems, Signal beats WhatsApp in the battle of the secure messaging apps available in the market.
Moreover, the security assurance also comes from none other than Edward Snowden, the man who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 without authorization and is currently taking refuge in a foreign land. Hence, Signal is worth the trust! The trust associated with Signal is high because Signal works based on a cryptographic protocol called ‘Signal Protocol’ to provide end-to-end encryption for voice calls, video calls, and instant messaging conversations. This service makes it possible to convert your message into a secret message that can only be decoded by its final recipient.
At times, when social networking sites like WhatsApp and Facebook collects a range of data from you, like your address book information, service-diagnostic-performance related information, log files and reports and even your friend’s activity data, just having end-to-end encryption does not make it secure at all. On the contrary, Signal is a lot more privacy-friendly. It only registers your phone number and knows when you last logged in. It does not record the time of the day, and even has a feature to allow sending messages that disappear and any conversation to be configured to ‘delete’ after a specified interval. In addition, the app’s code is freely available for experts to inspect for flaws or back doors in its security. Thus, Signal is a champion when we talk about privacy.
So people, choose the best. One that is good for you, one that can keep you safe!