WhatsApp panic spurs massive digital migration

Toby Shapshak

Millions of gatvol WhatsApp users have been ditching the popular service and signing up with alternatives.

Should you escape WhatsApp too? 

And if you do, here are some alternatives, including two homegrown platforms – Moya and Ayoba.

WhatsApp’s new privacy conditions showed that owner Facebook will be accessing a lot of information on what you do with your phone, which sites you visit and what you buy. They won’t be looking at your messages, or listening to your calls – that’s all encrypted and safe – but they will be looking at everything else.

So scared users around the world worried about privacy have been signing up to the two big alternatives.

The big winners have been more privacy-focused apps like Telegram and Signal – not quite as smooth and easy to use as WhatsApp, but pretty good. 

Telegram is owned and funded by a Russian businessman Pavel Durov, who set it up to help dissidents avoid the prying eyes of Vladimir Putin’s spies. Durov says WhatsApp’s new privacy rules sent 45-million new users to telegram in 72 hours – “the largest digital migration in human history”.

Signal – run by a non-profit foundation (the people who invented WhatsApp and then quit after Facebook took it over) – has also welcomed millions of new users. It’s the safest messaging app of them all. End to end encryption. Anonymous. Disappearing messages. No data mining. The one to use if you’re having an affair or doing something naughty. But slightly less user-friendly, and less suited than Telegram or WhatsApp for forwarding photos and links.

If you’re feeling patriotic, closer to home there’s MTN’s Ayoba – a messaging platform with zero-rated data which allows publishers like Scrolla.Africa to run content “channels” to provide news, entertainment and education materials for free to Ayoba’s users.

Another African app that is doing very well is Moya which offers data-free services. It’s encrypted and has unlimited texts and voice notes. 

Download Moya here, Ayoba here, Telegram here and Signal here