Telegram is becoming one of the hottest non-profit privacy-focussed apps
Take a sneak peek into encrypted messaging app’s ties to risqué content
Depending on who’s wielding it, scalpels can either save lives or end them. This notion of ‘use and misuse’ rings true for almost every new-age tool, especially those of a digital nature like mobile apps. Such Andoird/iOS applications—where upwards of 450 million Indian mobile internet users are currently active—caters to myriad demands from social media and on-demand streaming to games and messaging platforms.
Telegram, on which 15 billion messages are claimed to be sent every day amongst its 200 million users, is one of the hottest non-profit privacy-focussed apps. Impressive statistics, if you take into consideration that this five-year-old secretive communication program has spent zilch on advertising or marketing. So, how did it become so popular? For one, It’s easy-to-use. However, the most potent characteristic—is the secret chat.
This feature enables military-grade encryption (called MTProto) where text, sensitive often risqué photos/videos, and files can be shared as self-destructing messages. This trait is the primary reason why Telegram’s founders, the Durov brothers: Pavel and Nikolai, initially launched the app as a means of communication that can’t be accessed by security agencies.
The aforementioned siblings, who are also the masterminds behind Russia’s immensely popular alternative to Facebook called VKontakte, have been an eye-sore for multiple governments. In fact, after journalists, activists, and privacy-focused users embraced the app, terror outfits began using Telegram to disseminate propaganda and organise attacks.
Besides secret chat, channels are another prominent highlight on the messaging app, as they allow messages to be broadcast to an indefinite number of users. This feature, when paired with the undeniable fact that Telegram channels are lightly moderated, has led to the rampant large-scale distribution of pornographic and pirated content.
As reported by The New Indian Express, earlier this year, Telegram was temporarily banned from the Apple Store after a Kerala-based user in Malappuram was found to be the admin of multiple aberrant porn channels. It is important to note that, Telegram clearly mentions that it such activities are against its Terms of Service (ToS).
In a Twitter discussion with Edward Snowden, the renowned computer analyst and privacy expert, Telegram co-founder Pavel stated, “We enforce rules only if a particular public channel violates our very simple ToS – no public calls for violence, no porn, (and) no copyright infringement.”