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Chat apps: evaluation criteria

Factors we look at in our reviews
Last update: Jan 17, 2021

We take into account the following criteria when evaluating chat apps in our reviews.

Keep in mind these are opinionated reviews. We might exclude certain criteria because we do not think they are relevant to activists. In addition, we simplify our answers to make it easier for readers to find the key information. In the tables, we try to use simple yes/no questions. The description may be used to refer to additional relevant resources.


When a lot of people already use the app, this makes it easier for new activists to join your communication channels. They do not have to download a new app, and do not have to become accustomed to it. Users will likely check for updates more frequently if they use the app for communicating with others as well.

Monthly active usersnumber


The larger your organisation becomes, the more likely you will want to be using an app that is specifically designed for large group communication. However, keep in mind that apps with more functionality are often more difficult to learn for new users. When an app is hard to use, people will be less likely to start actively using it.

Max sizenumber
Broadcast messagesyes/no
Restrict who can add membersyes/no
Restrict who can edit group infoyes/no
Restrict who can send messagesyes/no
Mentioning specific peopleyes/no
Inline commentsyes/no
Disappearing messagesyes/no
Platformslist of platforms

Security and privacy

You should make an analysis how important it is to keep secret the identity of your fellow activists and their communication with each other. As an activist organisation, you are likely being followed closely by local authorities. This is not necessarily a reason to become more secretive, as this could scare potential new members of your movement away. Do not, however, be naive when it comes to the ability and willingness of authorities to follow your actions. If you're interested in communicating securely with others, also read this article by EFF.

Open sourceIs the source code publicly available and well documented?
End-to-end encryptionAre the contents of messages only available to the sender and receiver(s)?
Collection of personal informationWhat data about you as an individual are being collected? (e.g. phone number, email, name, ip-address)
Collection of metadataHow much information, besides the contents of the messages, is collected by the app? (timestamps, location, contacts)
Trustworthy ownerWhat is the track record of the owner? Have there been significant security breaches, and how did they respond to that? Does their revenue model depend on collecting data about you?

Price and revenue model

Unless your group is fairly small, and intends to stay that way, you will want to use an app that is free to use for your members. Apps that are targeted at larger organisations often use a different payment model: they ask the organisations to pay per member. Some offer software that you can host yourself, which means that you will be making (relatively small) hosting costs. This means, however, that you will have to manage your server yourself. You will need the technical capacity to do this.

Sells personal datayes/no
Sells personalised adsyes/no
Is a nonprofityes/no

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