Instant messaging

Instant messaging is an online communication service that allows two or more people to send and receive text messages in real time , that is, in a perceptually instantaneous way; without significant apparent delay between sending and receiving information. In the international computing community, the Anglo-Saxon term Instant messaging (IM) is commonly used to denote this modern service.

The communication channel that the instant messaging service establishes between its users needs to be connected to a network, which is generally the Internet, although instant messaging applications for mobile phones allow the use of mobile data (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G , etc.) to specify the sending and receiving of text messages.

Technically, the architecture of instant messaging networks can be based on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, where the transmission of information occurs directly between the connected devices of the network; or in client-server networks, where traditionally an IM service center retransmits messages sent by devices to their respective recipients.

The messages of the instant messaging service are not only composed of alphanumeric characters , but also include emoticons, images, photos, videos, audios, URLs, among others. On the other hand, with technological evolution, IM services were adapted to allow users to make video chats, make online calls, send attachments, among others.

  1. Characteristics
  2. How does it work
  3. Popular instant messaging services
  4. Advantages and disadvantages


Instant messaging is a fundamental form of communication in modern life , which has been duly developed to optimize human communications, in order to generate comfort and other benefits in the community. Such optimization of communications is based on numerous characteristics developed by IM applications and programs, the following being those that have the greatest influence and relevance:

instant messaging


Although instant messaging conversations take place in real time, which implies that there is a certain synchrony (temporal equivalence) between the responses of the conversation participants, this aspect is not purely constant, since any user has the possibility of leaving the conversation whenever you want , being able to resume it at any other time, or abandon it completely.


Modern instant messaging services offer their users multiple options for sending information , including the transfer of attachments beyond videos, images, audios, etc. (such as documents with the extension .doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.), the systematic organization of contacts; the ability to maintain several conversations (chat) at the same time. In addition, several companies and technology development companies are trying to unify all IM protocols to have adequate standardization.


Given the computer susceptibility of any electronic device connected to a network, instant messaging programs have cryptological tools to combat malware and cybercriminals that abound on the web, in order to defend the integrity of users. The main tool used for this purpose is the encryption of communications (in its different variants), which must be applied to the messages sent by each user.


In order to provide comfort to users of the instant messaging service, each user is free to establish certain modifications in the default configuration of their profile , in order to have the opportunity to have a pleasant experience of communication with their contacts. Each user's profile is their own space that no other individual will be able to access, at least if such an attempt is made remotely and using hacking techniques, since the user must also be attentive to protecting its integrity. .

Multi platform

The instant messaging service does not discriminate in the type of electronic device that houses the IM program , since technological advancement has allowed the development of special software for each existing modern device, in order to facilitate user communications.

How does it work

Most messaging services are based on the traditional client-server architecture , forming networks in which the potential user needs to obtain an instant messaging client to install it on their device (computer, mobile phone, etc.), which is a program (application) that contains the fundamental protocols for using the particular messaging service provided by a company. Now, client-server instant messaging communication works as follows:

instant messaging

  1. After installation, the IM client demands that the mobile phone number be provided, according to local coding, to register the user. Then, a username must be established, and finally, the client will proceed to verify the data provided by accessing the server through protocols. Typically, verification is achieved by accessing the SMS code received from the server.
  2. Once the identity is verified by the server, it creates a temporary connection record and accesses the contact list saved on the mobile.
  3. The server synchronizes the connection status of the created account with the status of the users in the contact list , transmitting this information to the client, which acts as an intermediary between the user and their contacts. An interactive network is generated between connected devices, in which each user is able to view the status of their contacts.
  4. To create a conversation you only need to choose the contact with whom you want to chat, write the message in the text space and press the send button. Now, the client takes the message and transmits it to a certain IP , where the client of the recipient contact will pick up the message to show it to its user. In this way, to respond to sent messages, the same interaction process is carried out between network clients, being a symmetrical process between users.
  5. When suspending the transfer, that is, when closing the application (client), the network server detects such suspension and informs the rest of the contact clients on the network , which is represented in a personalized way depending on the user's configuration. Additionally, the server deletes the temporary log of the initial connection .

Originally, instant messaging services were limited only to the web environment, however, the IM trend turned towards social networks in early 2012, thanks to the boom in popularity they experienced. But, a short time later (2014) until today, the IM trend has turned towards smart device applications , since these turned out to be more versatile than any other option on the market. For this reason, we highlight the following instant messaging services:


whatsapp messaging

WhatsApp (WA) is an instant messaging application developed by WhatsApp Inc. in 2009, later acquired by Facebook in 2014. This private application is cross-platform, as it is available for mobile phone, tablet and mobile operating systems. computers. WA allows you to send and receive online messages, as well as documents, locations, contacts, videos, audios, voice messages, etc. Currently it is the IM application with the largest number of users around the world , it is estimated that the number is greater than 2000 million users.


telegram messaging

Telegram is a free, multiplatform program that serves as an instant messaging client for smart electronic devices in general, which also has voice over internet protocols (VOIP). This is a program developed by the programmer brothers Nikolai and Pável Dúrov, founders of Telegram Messenger Inc., in August 2013. Even beyond offering IM functions, it also provides various functions for sending various files and for communication. the masses .

Facebook Messenger

facebook messenger

This is an instant messaging application developed by Facebook in 2008, originally called Facebook Chat, which was subsequently renewed until the current version of the program was launched in 2011. Facebook Messenger allows its users to send messages to each other in private or group chats, make calls and video calls, among other functions. This is one of the IM applications with the largest number of users in the world , since according to the last estimate (2017) it had 1.2 billion users.


wechat messaging

It is a private, multiplatform and multipurpose application developed by the Chinese multinational company Tencent, which is dedicated to the service of instant messaging, free calls, social networks, online payments, among others. The first version of this program emerged in 2011, and after 7 years it became one of the most popular applications in China, with more than 1 billion users. Although some classify it as a super application , it has become involved in controversy because it has provided personal data of its users to the Chinese government.


messaging line

Line is a multiplatform instant messaging application programmed by the LINE Corporation and launched on the market in June 2011, which in addition to offering the sending and receiving of messages, allows its users to send images, videos, audios and VOIP calls. However, the most popular aspect of your IM system dynamics are the stickers , a type of virtual stickers of various motifs and designs.

Advantages and disadvantages

In the last decade, instant messaging has become an essential aspect of modern communication since it has managed to keep a large number of people interconnected, transcending geographical limitations. However, this service has harmful features that generally escape public scrutiny due to the population's ignorance. Therefore, to have a better perspective of IM, we present both its advantages and disadvantages:


  • It allows relatively simultaneous communications to be achieved between people located in different geographic coordinates , through Internet connections. In this way, there is the perception that the conversations happen quickly and synchronously.
  • It generates savings in human communications , since calls through landline or mobile telephone services are not absolutely necessary, in the sense that there is a more efficient communication channel, in principle.
  • Today's instant messaging is capable of being hosted by multiple modern devices.
  • It offers business and corporate organizations new means to carry out business activities , such as closing deals, agreeing on conditions, among others. Likewise, they offer improvements to the internal environment of the organization, to transmit information to different hierarchical levels.


  • Dependency and excessive use of instant messaging tends to generate addictions in IM client users , since it influences the human psyche by conditioning through different particular neural reactions, altering previous or normal behavioral patterns.
  • Although most instant messaging service programs have robust measures against cybercriminals, hackers, malware, etc., security systems still present vulnerabilities that are exploited by malicious agents to access users' personal information and steal your identity.
  • Because speed is an important factor in instant messaging conversations, users are tempted to produce informal shortenings of words to converse more simply. In this way, it is possible that some reductions become popular among users and overcome the cyber barrier to enter the ordinary world by distorting grammar, spelling, etc. of certain languages.

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