- Reading time: 2 minutes / whole rubric: 36 minutes -

WhatsApp is by far the most popular and widely used messenger in Europe. It has a great range of functions, is easy to use and very convenient in terms of contact management. But …

Suggestion and request:
Everyone can use a free messenger in addition to their favorite central messenger and offer it as a contact option.


There is not only one good reason to choose a free messenger system such as chat standard XMPP(Jabber), e-mail chat, Matrix or Briar:

  1. Freedom (no arbitrariness and dependence on a central body)

  2. Compliance with standards

  3. Legal certainty

  4. No age restriction

  5. No “data practices”

  6. Data protection

  7. Economic independence

  8. Technical advantages

Requirements for “free messengers” (systems)

  1. free (no restrictions on use, no terms and conditions, modifiable, …)

  2. open source (the source code is available e.g. for reviews)

  3. decentralized (through public and standardized transmission protocols)

  4. secure (possibility of end-to-end encryption for individual/group chats)

  5. free of charge (it must also be possible to use the system free of charge)
    Note: However, services such as development contracts, support, hosting can very well be commissioned/provided as a service.

Civil society autonomy through federated server operation (as is intuitive and familiar with e-mail) instead of closed systems (“walled garden”) as well as civil society control through free software for clients and servers is important.

In practice, a messenger system should also fulfill:

  • Communication should also be possible without a smartphone and there must be no dependence on mobile phone contracts.
  • Accessible clients** for Android, GNU/Linux, MacOS/iOS, Windows - (e.g. suitable for the blind) -> Accessibility (external)
  • Use must also be possible without synchronizing the local address book
  • Reliable message transfer and reliable error messages if messages, images and videos cannot be delivered
  • Android apps should fulfill the criteria for F-Droid and be available there

Yes, but why not …

… simply use another prominent messenger system as an alternative to Europe’s most prominent messenger WhatsApp such as:

  • Highly praised, “secure” messengers: Signal, Threema, Wire, …
  • Other globally popular messengers: Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, iMessage, Skype, …
  • But also: Telegram, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Kakao-Talk, …
  • Or other commercial solutions: StashCat, SIMSme, …
  • … and so on and so forth.

WhatsApp - as well as the other examples listed - are each marketed by a company and, just like WhatsApp, can be used centrally or unfree (i.e. only with restrictions/conditions).

They do not meet the requirements for “free messengers” - instead, you are at the mercy of the arbitrariness of a provider and are highly dependent on them.
So there are many good reasons for using a free messenger system!

For an overview of why other prominent messengers are not recommended: >> here <<

Article on the topic

Free messenger – why?
A detailed but (hopefully) understandable, less technical answer to this question from Peter Löbbecke - combined with a plea.
Original file: >> PDF file << (as at 18.03.2021)

Thank you very much for this detailed work!