How do messaging app alternatives to WhatsApp measure up against each other for campaigner needs?

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Also, any overarching tactics, strategies or tips that are recommended for using any messaging app for campaigning?

For context on why WhatsApp is no longer a secure messaging choice, see: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/01/its-business-usual-whatsapp

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Asked on May 28, 2021
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I definitely subscribe to Chris's comment.

Signal is also my favourite when we want to work with small closed groups. In our commitment to distributed organizing practices as a key strategy for building movements, it is essential to design a system of groups with some autonomy that work to advance towards the organisation's objectives in either thematic or geographical divisions. For this, Signal is a perfect tool for coordinating, deciding and facilitating supporters' engagement.

Of course, we recommend that this group scheme is carefully designed so that bottom-up participation is encouraged, but also so that the information, knowledge and leadership coming from the organization is present and easily flowing to ensure the alignment of the different efforts.

Regarding the fact that not many people have Signal on their mobiles, I would not see it as a great barrier. If we use it for our most interested groups of supporters, installing a specific application will not be a problem. In fact, it can be an incentive as it can promote the feeling of belonging.

Another option that I know that is often used for this is Element. Although I personally have not investigated very deeply, it seems to comply perfectly with privacy and security requirements.

On the other hand, Telegram is also one of the other tools that I like the most. First, because of the functionality mentioned by Chris, which I think opens up a wide range of opportunities when it comes to having simple supporter journeys that organically take supporters from moments of the first contact of interest to phases of active participation and belonging. Since those discussions that open, it is not difficult to connect participants to specific workgroups.

But also, Telegram is the one that, in my opinion, is the most technologically advanced. The important community of developers behind it is actively exploring new avenues of great interest. For example, it has many bots that allow you to easily manage massive groups, which again offers many opportunities. Personally, I have not had the opportunity to go further in the exploration of these tools. Still, if an organization has programming and development resources, this is the application to exploit.

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Answered on July 19, 2021
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Signal is our go-to app at Amnesty for mobile communications with partners and activists that might include sensitive information. The issue is that there still aren’t that many people who use it, particularly outside of NGO circles, so it’s not a very viable tool for mass communications with activists and members. I would recommend it for small group / team chats where you need to be discussing more operational campaign matters though.

I don’t have much experience using Telegram for campaigns yet, but one feature that I think holds a huge amount of potential for campaigners is the “Discuss” button that you can add to Channels (Telegram’s equivalent to WhatsApp’s broadcast lists). This lets you basically combine mass broadcast messages to activists with group discussions, getting the best of both worlds. So you can, for example, broadcast a message to list of activists about an upcoming campaign event and then those interested could discuss the action with others and the campaign leaders.  Would be great to hear from campaigners who have used this feature how they’ve found it.

One thing that is important to remember with Telegram however is that it only offers end-to-end encryption for individual chats, not for channels or groups.

In terms of overarching strategies and tactics, I highly recommend checking out Movimiento Cosecha’s presentation in this SMT training: https://courses.socialmovementtechnologies.org/p/whatsapp-for-people-power – most things they present here are applicable to all messaging apps. I particularly like the way they create groups specifically for the absorption of new activists (using public links to groups that all the aforementioned apps offer) and then filter in newly recruited activists into smaller, more operational groups. The way they use WhatsApp for advocacy is also applicable to the other apps as phone numbers shared in groups can just need to be tapped to initiate a call with a rep or other campaign target.

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Answered on June 4, 2021
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Try TellThem, a free new DemLabs app which lets you send personalized WhatsApp messages from your desktop.
https://thedemlabs.org/2021/05/30/whatsapp-campaign-messages-personalized/

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Answered on June 4, 2021