Telegram is an open-source, ad-free, always free alternative to Whatsapp, backed by Russian millionaires. The software uses heavy decryption, allows self destruction of messages, has an open API and can also be used on desktop computers.
The app, available on most mobile platforms might become a serious alternative for Whatsapp, now the messaging service has been sold to Facebook. Many privacy aware internet users try to stay away from known data mining companies like Google and Facebook. There are many Whatsapp alternatives, like Hangouts (Google), ChatOn (Google) and Facebook Messenger, but all have to drawback of possible abuse of personal data. Other applications like Viber and Line nag you with ways of getting money out of your pocket.
Telegram promises to tackle these problems, the software is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov, surprisingly founders of VK.com, the ‘Facebook of Russia’. The website states that they believe in fast and secure messaging that should be 100% free. Besides that, they also state to never sell data, show advertisements, let you pay for it or accept outside investors.
The software uses your phone number as an unique identifier, which also makes it easy to find out if any of your contacts are already using the application. During the installation it sends you a text message to confirm your number. Then it asks you to fill in your name (only first name required) and you’re welcomed by a familiar interface which pretty much resembles Whatsapp. Once installed, I noticed more than five of my contacts was already using it.