Security & Privacy

How to avoid exposing your IP or location in FaceTime, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, X, and other apps

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X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, recently announced that its voice and video calling feature was rolling out for free to all users. Several news outlets immediately expressed consternation, claiming that X’s default settings were a privacy disaster. Calls made via X would, by default, expose users’ IP addresses to each other.

But why does IP address exposure matter? Should you be concerned about it? Are there settings you should change? And what about other messaging and calling platforms—are they safe? Let’s break it all down.

In this article:

  • Why you might want to keep your IP address private
  • How to keep your IP address private, regardless of what apps you use
  • How to avoid IP address exposure on X (Twitter), or disable calling
  • How to avoid IP address exposure on WhatsApp
  • How to avoid IP address exposure on Telegram, or disable calling
  • How to avoid IP address exposure on Signal
  • How to reduce IP address exposure on Threema, or disable calling
  • How to avoid IP address exposure on FaceTime or Facebook Messenger: use a VPN
  • What can I do to learn more?

Why you might want to keep your IP address private

Every device connected to the Internet has a public IP address (or IP for short). By default, your IP is shared automatically with every site you visit, and in every e-mail you send (from most mail apps). You can think of your IP like a home address; it’s how Internet services know where to send the information you request.

IP addresses typically reveal your general geographic location, such as your city, county, state or province, or country.

In some cases, however, IPs may reveal much more specific information about you. For example, if you’re connected to the Internet from a college campus, others may be able to identify from your IP address that you’re currently at school. Internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes group blocks of IP addresses by neighborhood; a reverse IP lookup could pinpoint a location on a map that’s just a few blocks away from your home.

Naturally, there are some situations in which one may want to avoid exposing any such information. For example, if you’re a victim of stalking or domestic abuse, you’ll want to prevent your abuser from finding out where you are. You may also want to avoid revealing your IP address to black-hat hackers, who could try to exploit your home router, if it’s vulnerable.

How to keep your IP address private, regardless of what apps you use

The best way to keep your IP address private at all times is to subscribe to a trusted VPN service—and leave it on all the time.

There are many VPN providers to choose from; here are the ones we trust:

By leaving a trusted VPN running all the time, your real public IP address will only be known to the VPN provider—not to others on the Internet. Using a VPN is a great way to protect your privacy, and also to protect your security when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots.

How to avoid IP address exposure on X (Twitter), or disable calling

To manage your X/Twitter settings related to audio and video calling, follow these steps:

  1. Open the X app on your phone.
  2. Tap on the Home button (⌂), then tap on your profile picture in the top-left corner.
  3. Next, tap ⚙️ Settings and Privacy, then Privacy and safety. Then tap Direct messages.
  4. If you’d like to completely disable the calling functionality, disable the “Enable audio and video calling” slider.
  5. If you decide to leave the feature enabled, you have granular control over who can initiate audio or video calls with you. You can choose any or all of the following checkboxes:
    • People in your address book
    • People you follow
    • Verified users
    • Everyone
  6. To prevent leaking your IP address to others during calls, enable “Enhanced call privacy.”

How to avoid IP address exposure on WhatsApp

To manage your WhatsApp settings related to audio and video calling, follow these steps:

  1. Open the WhatsApp app on your phone.
  2. Tap on the ⚙️ Settings button, then tap on Calls. Ensure that Silence Unknown Callers is enabled.
  3. Next, go back (‹) and then tap on Advanced.
  4. To prevent leaking your IP address to others during calls, enable “Protect IP address in calls.” Note that WhatsApp warns that “This will reduce call quality.”

How to avoid IP address exposure on Telegram, or disable calling

To manage your Telegram settings related to audio and video calling, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Telegram app on your phone.
  2. Tap on the ⚙️ Settings button, then tap Privacy and Security.
  3. Next, under the Privacy section, tap Calls.
  4. If you’d like to completely disable the calling functionality, set WHO CAN CALL ME to Nobody. If you decide to leave the feature enabled, you can choose either My Contacts or Everybody. You can also choose to Never Allow specific users.
  5. Telegram also allows you to choose under which circumstances you’ll use peer-to-peer calling, potentially revealing your IP address. You can choose one of the following options for peer-to-peer calling:
    • Always
    • My Contacts
    • Never

Note that Telegram also warns that relaying calls through its servers “may decrease audio and video quality.”

How to avoid IP address exposure on Signal

To manage your Signal settings related to audio and video calling, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Signal app on your phone.
  2. Tap on your profile picture in the top-left corner, then tap Settings ⚙️.
  3. Tap on Privacy, then scroll down and tap on Advanced.
  4. To prevent leaking your IP address to others during calls, enable “Always Relay Calls.” Like WhatsApp and Telegram, Signal warns that “Enabling [this setting] will reduce call quality.”

How to reduce IP address exposure on Threema, or disable calling

To manage your Telegram settings related to audio and video calling, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Threema app on your phone.
  2. Tap on the ⚙️ Settings button, then tap Threema Calls.
  3. If you’d like to completely disable the calling functionality, disable the Enable Threema Calls setting.
  4. If you decide to leave the calling feature enabled, you can enable Always Relay Calls.

Once again, Threema warns that enabling this setting “May affect call quality.”

How to avoid IP address exposure on FaceTime or FaceBook Messenger: use a VPN

Note that Apple’s FaceTime system and Facebook Messenger both use peer-to-peer connections for every call; there isn’t any way to disable this. Therefore, using a VPN is the only way to avoid exposing your IP address during calls over Facebook Messenger or FaceTime.

How can I learn more?

We discussed this topic on episode 334 of the Intego Mac Podcast.

Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep an eye here on The Mac Security Blog for the latest Apple security and privacy news. And don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels: Follow Intego on X/Twitter Follow Intego on Facebook Follow Intego on YouTube Follow Intego on Pinterest Follow Intego on LinkedIn Follow Intego on Instagram Follow the Intego Mac Podcast on Apple Podcasts

About Joshua Long

Joshua Long (@theJoshMeister), Intego's Chief Security Analyst, is a renowned security researcher and writer, and an award-winning public speaker. Josh has a master's degree in IT concentrating in Internet Security and has taken doctorate-level coursework in Information Security. Apple has publicly acknowledged Josh for discovering an Apple ID authentication vulnerability. Josh has conducted cybersecurity research for more than 25 years, which has often been featured by major news outlets worldwide. Look for more of Josh's articles at security.thejoshmeister.com and follow him on X/Twitter, LinkedIn, and Mastodon. View all posts by Joshua Long →