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Chat apps that students prefer during corona crisis

‘Staying apart is the best way to stay united’ is Coca Cola’s current social distance slogan. One of the ways to stay united is with social media and video chats. Hanze student Aila Kubat asked 32 international and Dutch Hanze students which apps they use and why. 

Zoom is an app you can use to video-chat with up to five hundred people. You can download it pretty much everywhere, in the Appstore and online for Mac or Windows. Only 19% of the students who took the survey use the app. Maria Lazareva is among the 81% of students who don’t use Zoom: ‘I don’t really know what Zoom is, people tried to explain it to me but still…’.

Telegram messenger
Maria might not know about Zoom because she is from Russia and mostly uses the app Telegram. Only 14% of the students who took the survey use Telegram. Telegram is a messenger app you can use to chat with up to two hundred thousand(!) people per group chat. The app is from Russia but ironically, after the creator had some issues with the Russian government about privacy issues, the app was banned there. However, this didn’t stop Russian people from using it. Just like many others Maria found a way around the ban. The app is now based in Berlin, and you can use it in almost every country, including the Netherlands.

I am talking with my family much more often than before

‘I think Telegram is better than WhatsApp, because it also has channels on which you can find the news, memes and more.’ Maria says. “It’s better because I think it’s all about safety: with Telegram your messages can be deleted immediately, and you just don’t have that with a lot of apps.’

The ‘self-destructing’ messages Maria mentions are a security measure you can choose to use before sending the message.

Whatsapp is used by 100% of the students who took the survey. One of these students is Mara Clej from Romania. ‘I am talking with my family much more often than before. We mainly use WhatsApp for that since you can call for free.’ Besides sending text messages, you can call or video chat for free using Whatsapp with a maximum of up to four people.

Mara is not worried about security or privacy issues.  ‘I don’t have an active interest in checking if an app is safe to use, as long as it’s popular and people don’t report any security issues, I feel safe using it.’

One app which has lately been in the news because of possible security issues is Houseparty. This all started when people began tweeting that hackers had found ways into other accounts of theirs through the app. To quote Trump: “this is all fake news”. According to the Houseparty website ‘Houseparty is secure. There have been no data breaches and no exposure of customer data or third-party accounts.’ Let’s hope they are honest. 29% of the students who took the survey use the app and 84% of them use it two to three times a week.

I don’t have an active interest in checking if an app is safe to use, as long as it’s popular

These apps are just a few of the ones you can use. When asked ‘Do you use another app to communicate with your friends and family?’, a lot of students answered with Instagram and Snapchat. During this lockdown it’s important to stay united, like the Coca Cola slogan I mentioned in the beginning of this article. Until we can all go back to normal, we’ll keep finding ways to be ‘alone together’.