With the current corona crisis going on, video calling tools have become essential for staying in touch. Now, we cannot meet in person, but meeting face to face is still possible with the the video calling tools that we will be discussing. Below you will find a list of the various services that are available.
For large groups
None of these video calling tools for large groups offer end-to-end encryption, but they do offer regular encryption. In other words: your call will be encrypted in transit to the server, but the company that offers the service will be able to have access to your video call. If you need more privacy for your organisation, consider looking at the tools for smaller groups.
Jitsi Meet: Jitsi offers a free to use video calling service. There is no hard limit for the number of participants, although the experience may become laggy when calling with more people. If you have a very large group, you can also livestream the call to YouTube.
Skype: This is perhaps the best known platform. You can call with up to 50 people. It also offers the option to record video calls.
Google Meet (Google Workspace plan required): With Google Meet you can now call with up to 250 people, livestream to YouTube, and store the video call automatically in Google Drive. Meet also offers the option to join by calling from your phone number, which is useful if your internet connection is not good enough. You can only use Google Meet meet if your organisation has a paid G Suite plan. However, people who are outside your organisation can still join the call with a link. There also is the option for nonprofit organisations to get G Suite for free.
Microsoft Teams (Office 365 Business Premium required): With Teams you can have online meetings with up to 250 people. An paid Office 365 Business Premium plan is required. However, registered nonprofit organisations can also apply for a free plan.
Zoom: With the free plan, you can call up to 100 participants. However, there is a limit of 40 minutes for video calls.
Discord (audio focussed): Being targeted at gamers, this app is primarily focussed on audio calling, with no limit to the number of participants. However, it is also possible to have a video call with up to 8 people on the free plan.
Kumospace: Can be used to create map based virtual spaces. Free for up to 30 people.
If you just want to call with your friends, these tools might be better suited for you. They are generally easier to use and many people have already installed these apps on their phones. All apps below, except Google Hangouts, use end-to-end encryption, meaning that no-one but the participants can listen in to the conversation. If privacy is very important to you, consider using Signal.
WhatsApp: You can call with up to 4 people using WhatsApp. All calls are end-to-end encrypted.
FaceTime: Only people with Apple devices are able to use FaceTime. It supports up to 32 people and offers end-to-end encryption.
Google Hangouts: With a regular Google account, you can have up to 10 participants in video calls. With the paid G Suite Business and Education plans you can have up to 25 participants. However, when you have access to these paid plans, you can also make use of Hangouts Meet, which offers support for up to 250 people (check the section above).
Duo: With Duo, you can call up to 8 people. Like most other apps in this category, the video calls are end-to-end encrypted by default.
Houseparty: With this app you can call up to 8 people at the same time. Houseparty also offers a feature to share your screen and has built in games which you can play with your friends.
Signal: You can only call with one other person with Signal which is quite a limitation compared to the competition. However, if you really need privacy, this app might still be the best option for you. In addition to the use of end-to-end encryption, this app also collects almost no metadata. Where other services do store information about who you are calling, at what time and from what location, this app does not.
Hosting virtual/hybrid meetings by Blueprints for Change
Activists pick up their phones and move online as coronavirus curbs protests by The Verge (2020)
Building an online collaborative Activist Handbook by Joppe Hoekstra (2020)