Facebook Messenger is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps, but it’s not without its critics. Which is why we have found the best alternatives to Facebook Messenger.
Some people loathe using anything connected to Facebook. Others are unimpressed with the linkup between Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, all of which are owned by Facebook. Either way, one of these Messenger alternatives should work for you.
Telegram has emerged as one of the best alternatives to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and all the other mainstream messaging apps. The client-side code is open source; the server-side code is proprietary.
It strips away many of the worst parts of Facebook Messenger that annoy people, including the ads, stories, and active statuses.
On the downside, some experts have criticized the app for its unintuitive approach to end-to-end encryption. It’s only enabled by default in secret chats. There are also concerns surrounding Telegram’s custom-designed encryption protocol; experts often criticize it for being unreliable.
Telegram is available on all major operating systems and via the web.
2. Facebook Messenger Lite
Another common reason that people shun Facebook Messenger is due to its performance. It places a high burden on your battery, eats through web data, and is slow on phones with a smaller amount of RAM.
Most of the main Messenger features are available on the Lite version, but the app’s file size is smaller, and it uses less data.
The most significant missing feature is video calling. There’s also no animated GIFs or stickers, and you cannot share your location using Messenger Lite.
Much of the decision surrounding which is the right Messenger alternative for your situation depends on how you use the Facebook app. For example, if you use Messenger as a way to communicate with colleagues, you should check out Slack instead.
Slack is free to use, though there are some restrictions compared to the paid version. Nonetheless, you still get 10,000 searchable messages, 10 app integrations, and support for one-on-one video calls.
Paid licenses start at $6.67/person/month.
Think about the primary tasks that you perform on Facebook Messenger. For most people, it’s merely sending text-based messages to friends and family.
If that describes your use case, it might be worth reverting back to SMS. Everyone has a phone number, so unlike other services like Telegram and Slack (which require other people to have an account), almost everyone will be within reach.
And remember, lots of carriers offer unlimited free text messages, so flipping back to the more traditional approach won’t cost you a dime.
If you want a like-for-like experience, IM+ is arguably the best alternative to Facebook Messenger.
IM+ is a Facebook Messenger client, meaning you can add your Facebook account and use the app to send messages to your Facebook Messenger contacts. However, the app also works with Yahoo Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Jabber, and more. It’s a one-stop hub for all your instant messaging providers.
You can use the app on Android and iOS, and there’s also a browser bar so you can stay on top of your messages without interrupting your browsing experience.
If you mainly use Facebook Messenger to make video calls, have a look at Jitsi.
Jitsi is a free-to-use video calling service. It has a few noteworthy features that help it stand out from the crowd. These features include encrypted calls, open source code, and, perhaps most importantly, anonymity. Neither you (or your fellow callers) need to make an account in order to place or participate in a call.
Jitsi is available on the web, Android, and iOS.
7. Swipe for Facebook
Swipe for Facebook is another Facebook Messenger client. Unfortunately, it’s only available on Android; there is no iOS version.
Unlike the other apps on our list, Swipe provides access to both Facebook and Facebook Messenger. It’s beyond the scope of this article, but suffice to say that the official Facebook app has its own issues regarding bloat, spam notifications, and unnecessary features—so Swipe can kill two birds with one stone.
It’s easy on your battery, supports picture-in-picture video calls, offers live Android homescreen widgets, and supports Messenger chat heads.
Download: Swipe for Facebook (Free)
If you value privacy, Threema is a highly recommended Messenger alternative.
As soon as you sign up, you’ll notice some differences. For example, you don’t need to supply your phone number or email address to create an account. Instead, the system relies on a uniquely-generated Threema ID number.
Additionally, Threema does not require access to your contacts, is ad-free, and offers best-in-class encryption. And because Threema is a Swiss company, it is bound by the country’s strict privacy laws. It’s not vulnerable to the much weaker laws in the US.
All the usual features (video calling, image/video sharing, group chats, multiple themes, etc.) are present.
Threema is not free. Instead, you need to make a one-off payment of $2.99.
Pidgin is like IM+. The app is a Messenger client that lets you connect to multiple services, thus providing a single, centralized hub for all your social media contacts.
Facebook Messenger is not natively supported, but it’s fast and easy to install the necessary third-party plugin. The native IM apps that Pidgin supports are Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Groupwise, IRC, SILC, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, and Zephyr.
Pidgin is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Wafer Messenger is a perfect Facebook Messenger alternative for anyone whose inbox is a constant whirl of GIFs, stickers, and animations.
The app lets you combine texts, sketches, stickers, pictures, videos, and audio into a single message. If you want to get creative, Wafer Messenger is for you.
Wafer Messenger also offers live sound effects, support for surveys and polls, and collaborative messages (people can use your unique creations and add to them).
The company promises not to log any of your private information or keywords, and does not show ads.
More Alternatives to Facebook Messenger
The Facebook Messenger alternatives and clients we’ve looked at in this article all do a great job of replicating—or improving—at least one part of the Facebook Messenger experience.
But they are not the only ways to connect with your friends and family. For more tips, check out our article on the best online messaging services to chat with friends and our short list of Facebook Messenger alternatives.