Life without instant messaging is unfathomable.
Just imagine 26 billion text messages are sent worldwide each day using a variety of social platforms and text messaging apps across mobile devices.
That’s 300,000 messages every second.
And while the global instant messaging market is constantly growing with various apps and use cases, it remains largely fragmented.
The lion’s share of today’s communication is powered by social messaging and social media applications on web2 (or the traditional Internet). WhatsApp is the top-ranked messaging app with over 2 billion users, followed by Facebook Messenger and WeChat, with approximately 1.3 billion users apiece.
Widespread Internet access and smartphone penetration are the primary drivers of this exponential growth. Social platforms now offer consolidated messaging channels with advanced features like end-to-end encryption, payment processing, ability to share files, including voice and audio files, among other capabilities.
Limitations And Problems Of Web2 Messaging Apps
Despite these massive changes, several critical limitations and problems have been neglected. Users favor the ease and widespread use of centralized social media platforms and popular messaging apps in lieu of privacy and security.
And while most existing messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram brag about their security measures, such as end-to-end encryption, there have been major incidents involving the circumvention of encrypted messaging apps. Especially if users back up their messages, including deleted messages, on a central server – which most people do.
However, all instant messaging apps share one thing in common: every leading solution is centralized.
For as long as you use them, there will be intermediaries and corporations processing and monetizing your personal data for the “privilege” of using their service.
That said, let’s take a look at the four major limitations of web2 social messaging apps.
Loss of Control
The Internet as many users have known it for the past two decades – the web2 era – has been dominated by monolithic corporations incentivized to collect, store, and process data to sell to third parties.
Each time you send a message on a web2 messaging app, you basically cede complete control to the corporation running that messaging service – and the security of your personal data is at the mercy of said corporation.
Web2 platforms are only all too happy to hand over user data and their servers to governments, organizations, and corporations demanding access.
While some of the best providers claim they don’t have the technical skills to view your messages or your message history, many of them will spill the beans to your favorite three-letter agency at the drop of a hat.
Content creators on social media platforms have also been censored for supporting certain causes or forbidden to speak freely about controversial topics. Facebook doesn’t hide the fact that content moderators have the right to censor messaging content and snoop into private messages as they see fit.
Governments can shut down social media platforms on a whim, whether it is a secure, encrypted messenger known for complete privacy as Telegram, or a social media platform as massive and all-encompassing as Facebook.
We need not look further than when the Russian government blocked access to Facebook servers (and the consequent efforts Russian government agencies are undertaking to block other services like Twitter and access to the Apple or Google app stores).
This includes every social media/messaging app Facebook owns, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Instagram, which billions rely on every second to send messages and communicate.
The secret is out in the open: social media platforms like Facebook gather terabytes of user data to form targeted user profiles so they can tailor ads and content. The Silicon Valley-based tech firm pulls this data from your browsing history, emails, shopping history, likes, follows, photos, names, user names and passwords – and everything in between.
Worse, they have been accused of profiting from said data by selling it to the highest bidder. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica fiasco of 2010 was proof positive of this profiteering, with Facebook selling data culled from millions of Facebook without their prior consent. The data ended up being used for political advertising for the political campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Everything else is fair game. WhatsApp may share identifying information like your phone number, frequency of usage, IP addresses, device IDs, and other details about your device and habits with Facebook. This also includes your location data, payment info, cookies, and transaction data. That just goes to show, when you use a popular messaging app needing only a free account to register, you are the product.
The lack of adequate security is another key limitation for web2 platforms, making them targets for cybercrime. For instance, WhatsApp, for all the talk about its end-to-end encrypted messaging capabilities, but notoriously fails when users back up text messages and other data onto the cloud server.
Worse, web2 social apps are prone to hacking. WhatsApp discovered a bug that enabled hackers to install malicious software using the call function.
Telegram, known for its secure, encrypted messaging protocol, was hacked, exposing 15 million Iranian users and their phone numbers. That’s not to mention a recent security incident where hackers dumped users’ details on darknet forums due to a flaw in Telegram’s contact export feature.
The centralized nature of social media and messaging platforms makes them easy targets for threat actors like nation-states, government agencies, cybercriminals, or hackers.
These are the reasons why a growing clamor exists for a decentralized messaging app capable of gaining mass adoption. People in war-torn countries or resisting corrupt totalitarian dictatorships need an antifragile, resilient messaging app that no single entity is capable of arbitrarily shutting down or seizing. This is where decentralized messaging apps can make a difference – and this is where web3 comes in.
Why Are Decentralized Messaging Apps Not Mainstream Yet?
The demand for an open-source, interoperable, and decentralized messaging app is picking up steam as users become wary of the undue control that the companies that dominate web2 platforms exercise.
A decentralized network is significantly more resistant to censorship than the social media and the web2 communication platforms we use, including email. Email is a federated protocol built that everyone uses, but one that’s subject to censorship by Gmail, Yahoo, or your centralized email provider of choice — unless you breach their terms of service or decide to run your own email server.
But if decentralized communication apps are the solution to the pitfalls of popular web2 social media or messaging apps, why haven’t they gone mainstream yet? Why isn’t anyone with an internet connection using a decentralized messenger?
The main problems that are stopping the adoption of decentralized messaging are the same as those that prevent mainstream adoption of web3.
These include the unwieldy and risky security practices, the steep learning curve involved, having to be one’s own server (therefore being solely responsible for managing themselves), a smaller number of contacts, high gas fees, and slow transaction times.
In the end, the most advanced, feature-rich decentralized messaging apps simply can’t compete with web2 chat apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and WeChat in the digital world…yet.
But they are catching up fast.
Top 3 Best Decentralized Messaging Apps
Decentralized messaging apps are several degrees more secure in sending messages than web2 communication apps are. Most of these apps natively support cross-border, permissionless, and cheaper payments with cryptocurrencies using crypto wallets.
Another advantage decentralized messaging apps have over their web2 counterparts is the ability of blockchain technology preserve privacy. There is no personal data or private key you have to hand over to an intermediary, since most interaction on a blockchain platform occurs through the creation of a non-custodial and anonymous crypto wallet.
But first, a caveat: as web3 is still a rapidly-evolving sector, these alternative platforms might not give you the same user experience as you are accustomed to. But the trade-off is that none of these platforms are actively spying on you, harvesting your data, or violating your right to free speech. And that’s a good thing.
Let’s take a look at the top three decentralized messaging apps right now.
is a decentralized social ecosystem at the heart of which is an instant messenger. The solution has everything you would expect from a full-scale Web3 communication tool: privacy, data protection, no censorship, and no single point of failure, but Senging.me is bringing much more.
will allow you to control your Web3 assets right in the instant messenger. It offers multi-chain operability and, most importantly – the possibility to trade NFTs without using any other tools.
No more jumping between an exchange (which will charge high fees) and Discord chats (where you can become a victim of NFT fraud) – is an all-in-one solution that will allow you to communicate and safely trade your NFTs.
TrueConf is a self-hosted unified communications platform for privacy and security-conscious enterprise clients with video calls for up to 1,000 participants.
TrueConf has all the necessary enterprise-grade messaging features, such as file sharing, enabling users to share documents, presentations, and photos, with web2 functionality most internet users would be accustomed to.
It’s a scalable, decentralized communication platform that easily scales to an organization’s needs while allowing power users to create their own unified communications platform to their exact specifications. The video conferencing system creates encrypted, secure storage for reliable offline or online real-time communication.
TrueConf is fully compatible with third-party video communication services, video conferencing equipment, and corporate messaging systems.
Session is an open-source end-to-end encrypted decentralized messaging app.
It was developed by Victoria, Australia-based Loki Foundation, whose goal is to create open-source applications and communication apps that are metadata-neutral and defend privacy at all costs. It uses the signal protocol with Perfect Forward Secrecy as its encryption method. At the same time, the app requires no phone number or email address to register and use.
Moreover, Session is decentralized, meaning there is no central server nor single point of failure for hackers to exploit. With client-side encryption, your communications are private, anonymous, and secure.
Status is a blockchain-based messaging protocol combining secure messaging, end-to-end encryption, crypto wallets to store Ethereum, NFTs, and other cryptocurrencies, a web3 browser for you to interact with web3 decentralized apps, and a search engine that doesn’t track your every move like Google does.
Status is powered by its native token, SNT. Users holding SNT tokens gain access to exclusive features, such as usernames, spam filters, and stickers. Moreover, SNT holders are essentially shareholders in Status, allowing them to vote on governance proposals and participate in key policy decisions affecting the protocol.
Status is a decentralized messaging app that doesn’t feel like one, since the user experience for the desktop and iOS and Android apps are flexible enough to use as your primary chat app. Moreover, Status also features end-to-end encryption, no central servers in the middle, and no single centralized chokepoint for resilience.
What Does The Future Hold For Web3?
As web3 evolves, so will its features. The same can be said for the ridiculously centralized social media platforms where billions live out their digital lives.
Instant messaging will become more secure in the age of web3. With the advent of decentralized messaging apps like TrueConf, Session, Status, and several other projects in development, the days of web2 social platforms might very well be numbered.
At the very moment, they offer an alternative to the heavily centralized legacy social apps of web2 vintage.
And since messaging is the bedrock of communication, decentralized messaging apps will be at the forefront of web3 for a long time as the technology evolves and gains wider adoption.
It’s too early to say whether decentralized messaging apps will be able to consolidate their user base and expand it within the context of the ongoing shift to web3.
Legacy social platforms have already done their damage. People are becoming increasingly aware of the exploitation of their personal data on the social messaging applications that they use, leading to a growing demand for a decentralized solution to instant messaging.
People are fed up with the constant infringements on their privacy and security – and web3 might just be the antidote in restoring privacy and security in their daily communications.
Ultimately, a decentralized messaging app is the most logical next step for online communication as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol did for the first two iterations of the web.
Decentralized messaging apps give the power back to the users rather than the corporations that own the most popular platforms, empowering them with composability, privacy, interoperability, and full ownership of their data.
Web3 is bringing more choices – superior choices – to the people.