Tox: Text, voice, and video chats without a central server


Many users have extremely high expectations of a potential WhatsApp alternative. It has to work as well and be as easy to use as the original, but has to do without companies and servers, as well as offer maximum control and give users all freedoms.

Reconciling all these conditions, however, is a difficult undertaking. It is the lack of a centrally organized user directory and switchboard that makes contact list maintenance more complicated for both developers and users. There are also restrictions when establishing a connection and sending data – as a user, you will notice this when establishing a video call or when you need to use pseudo-offline messages, for example.

Despite all this, Tox works and offers almost all the functions that WhatsApp and similar applications have in their repertoire. Only a few features are missing, such as viral message forwarding. However, if you consciously choose a P2P messenger like Tox, you will probably not have this on your list of requirements anyway.

One thing has to be said though: Tox does not explicitly guarantee the user's privacy. You are anonymous on the Tox network, and there is no mandatory registration. The messages are transmitted peer-to-peer and directly and encryption ensures that no one can sniff them. Nevertheless, the recipient sees your IP address, and the network operator could also track with whom (more precisely: with which IP) you are communicating on the Tox network. In the FAQ, the Tox developers are open about this issue [20]. They even provide instructions on how to route Tox through the Onion router Tor, if necessary [21].

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