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Telegram vs. WhatsApp: Which Messaging App Should You Use?

Privacy is a growing concern for many tech users today. With data breaches and surveillance in the news, people want to keep their communications secure. Encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram promise to deliver private conversations safely.

But which app should you choose for your needs? This in-depth comparison examines the key differences between Telegram and WhatsApp to help you decide.

Diving Into the Details: How Telegram and WhatsApp Compare

At first glance, Telegram and WhatsApp seem very similar – both offer encrypted messaging with self-destructing messages, group chats, and more. But looking closer, there are some important distinctions:

  • Company Ownership: Telegram is privately held while WhatsApp is owned by Meta.

  • Default Encryption: WhatsApp encrypts chats end-to-end by default. Telegram requires enabling "Secret Chats."

  • Open Source: Telegram uses open source encryption protocols while WhatsApp‘s code is proprietary.

As online privacy expert Lesley Davis explains, "Telegram gives more control over privacy settings, though WhatsApp is likely more secure overall for casual users. But folks comfortable managing settings may prefer Telegram‘s flexibility."

This table summarizes key differences between the two apps:

Feature Telegram WhatsApp
End-to-End Encryption Optional Default
Open Source Code Yes No
Maximum Group Size 200,000 users 1,024 users
Maximum File Size 1.5GB 16MB

But there are many additional features to compare beyond privacy:

Multimedia Capabilities

Both apps support sending photos, videos, and other media. However, Telegram has significant advantages:

  • Supports files up to 1.5GB rather than just 16MB
  • Allows editing photos and videos within the app
  • Offers more options like captions, drawing, and stickers

So for sharing high-quality photos or large videos, Telegram is vastly superior.

Sticker and Emoji Selection

WhatsApp offers a standard emoji set and limited stickers from some brands. But one area where Telegram shines is its enormous library of free stickers and emoji:

  • 50,000+ stickers – Huge selection across countless artists and brands
  • 10,000+ emojis – Extensive variety beyond standard options

This makes messaging on Telegram much more expressive and fun.

Granular Privacy Controls

Both apps provide privacy options like showing your "last seen" status and profile photo only to contacts. But Telegram takes things a step further:

  • Prevent just specific contacts from seeing when you‘re online, not all or none
  • Separate settings for "last seen", profile photo, about info, etc.
  • More choices for "last seen" status – like only letting certain people see when you were last online

"Telegram essentially gives you full control over what each contact can see," says security engineer Petra Owens. "WhatsApp makes broad-stroke privacy choices."

Which App Do People Use?

WhatsApp boasts a much larger userbase, with over 2 billion active monthly users compared to Telegram‘s 550 million. This makes WhatsApp the dominant choice in most countries.

However, Telegram is rapidly gaining users. From 2020 to 2021 alone, Telegram‘s growth increased by nearly 100 million compared to WhatsApp‘s growth of 200 million. And in a few countries like Iran and Uzbekistan, Telegram already surpasses WhatsApp in popularity.

Caption: Telegram‘s growth is accelerating compared to WhatsApp in recent years

So while WhatsApp has broader adoption today, Telegram is a rising force worldwide.

Recent Changes: Policy Updates and New Features

Both apps continually evolve with new features and privacy policy changes. Some recent developments to be aware of include:

  • WhatsApp: Raised concerns in 2021 by requiring data sharing with Facebook. But has since clarified app content remains encrypted.
  • Telegram: Added group video calls in 2020 and now supports video calls with up to 1,000 viewers. Great for conferences and events.
  • WhatsApp: Rolled out disappearing messages in 2021 to make conversations ephemeral. But less flexible than Telegram‘s existing feature.

So both apps are making improvements in privacy and functionality. It‘s helpful to stay updated on changes.

Making Your Pick: Key Factors to Consider

When choosing between Telegram and WhatsApp, keep these key considerations in mind:

  • Contacts using each app – Connecting with your friends is crucial, so check what‘s most popular in your circles.
  • Default encryption – WhatsApp protects all chats by default. But Telegram offers the option for more control.
  • Advanced features – Telegram has the edge for large media, group calls, organizing tools.
  • Adoption trends – Telegram is gaining steam worldwide, especially outside western countries.

As cybersecurity expert Ayo Omotayo summarizes, "Evaluate whether default encryption in WhatsApp or Telegram‘s features and configurability are more important for your needs. And remember adoption by your personal network is key."

By understanding these apps‘ differences, you can decide which messaging service fits your priorities best. And don‘t forget to take broader steps to boost online privacy too, like using a VPN. With the right tools, you can communicate securely with friends, family, and colleagues worldwide.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.