[Work in progress]
Never use garbage like Whatsapp, Skype, Snapchat, SMS or Discord. Nothing you do on those applications is private. Telegram isn't much better.
Always favor applications that have strong encryption, an open source code and run on a decentralized network.
- XMPP: This is a decentralized communication protocol designed for Instant Messaging rather than just another application. Created back in 1999 and widely used to this day. In fact, a lot of spyware/botnet chat services like WhatsApp and Google Voice have or at one point used it. You will need a server and a client. XMPP is probably the best choice if you self-host.
- For XMPP Server Software, consider Prosody (Guide), ejabberd or Snikket
- For XMPP Client Software (apps), consider Conversations (Android), Gajim (Windows/Linux Desktop) or God forbid, Siskin (iOS) (Make your iPhone-using family & friends use Siskin or ChatSecure)
- If you don't want to self-host your own XMPP server (you should!) consider a trustworthy provider like Snopyta, NixNet or YDFS (/g/) and remember to turn OMEMO encryption on. (List)
- Jami: Peer-to-peer, open source, easy to use, strong encryption, multi-platform, great choice. GNU Project. Consider using it with a VPN, Orbot or a DHT Proxy.
- Briar: Peer-to-peer, even more secure than Jami, maximum privacy, routed through Tor, Android only.
- Matrix/Element: Similar to XMPP, Matrix itself is an open-source communication protocol. It is relatively new compared to XMPP and still in active development. Don't worry it is currently functional. Element (formerly Riot) is a Slack-like client created by the creator's of Matrix that makes use of Matrix's features. You will either want to self-host your own instance or sign up to a good server.
- Tinfoil Chat: Maximum security, requires special hardware. Advanced users only.
- Signal: Open-source, privacy-oriented WhatsApp competitor. Uses its own encryption protocol that is very good, no metadata leaks, but it's centralized as well as based in the US and requires a phone number.
- Status.im: A decentralized messenger with crypto integrations. Rapidly improving.
- Tox: Peer-to-peer, but a highly experimental protocol
- Threema: Very secure, centralized messenger that is popular in Europe. Small one time payment required.
- Session: Decentralized servers routed through Lokinet. Open source, but scrapped PFS(perfect Forward Secrecy) in favor of faster delivery times. Still no support for voice calls.
- DeltaChat: Uses your Email address + automatic PGP Encryption for instant messaging.
Who needs the internet for chatting?
Never use garbage like Discord under any circumstance, and more importantly, NEVER DOWNLOAD THE APP. It's spyware and fiercely pro-censorship. Same goes for Slack. It is a workplace spying tool. [Article #1] [Article #2]
Consider the following alternatives for privacy, security and decentralization):
- Element: Formerly known as Riot.IM. It is a Slack-like, multi-platform, Electron application powered by Matrix. Made by the Vector, the team is creating the Matrix protocol. Read about Matrix here
- RocketChat: Enterprise software. More for productivity and collaboration, but some prefer it to Element.
- Mattermost: See RocketChat.
- Mumble: The best open source, voice-chat software that is also very easy to set up. You set up the server side software called murmur and download the client then connect to the server. Provides high quality audio with low latency. Has a very basic chat room as well.
- Guilded: Not private, and not great, but extremely similar to Discord in functionality, while not being Discord. Use this if your friends are happy to try Discord alternatives, but insist on it working just like Discord.
- SphinxChat: Blockchain-powered chat server. Uses Bitcoin Lightning network. Describes itself as anchoring 3 basic rights: Free Speech, Free Assembly, and Right to Earn.
- Revolt Chat: Up and coming FOSS, privacy-oriented Discord replacement. Lots of customization options. In the very early access stage.
- If you absolutely must use Discord, use it in your browser (especially Ungoogled Chromium). Do NOT download the Discord app under any circumstance. It will spy on your running tasks.
- Instead of Zoom, use Jitsi.