Launched in 2013, Telegram quickly became the go-to instant messaging (IM) app for power users. With rivals like WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger, Telegram stood out with its focus on security, cross-platform availability, and rapid development of unique features.
What is Telegram?
Telegram, founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, combines the speed of WhatsApp with the ephemerality of Snapchat. Unlike its competitors, Telegram is a truly cloud-based cross-platform solution. You can use Telegram on all devices without needing your phone. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Web. Simply sign in with your mobile number, and all your chats, media, and files are readily accessible. This seamless integration across platforms is one of Telegram’s standout features.
Telegram’s Impressive Features
Telegram offers a myriad of attention-grabbing features that set it apart from its competitors:
- Groups with up to 200,000 members: Telegram allows large group conversations, making it ideal for communities and organizations.
- Self-destructing and scheduled messages: You can set messages to disappear after a certain period or schedule messages to be sent at a specific time.
- Large file sharing: Telegram has a generous file size limit of 1.5 GB, making it convenient for sharing media files.
- Voice and video calls: Telegram supports voice and video calls on both Android and iOS devices.
- Stickers, GIFs, and emojis: Telegram provides a wide variety of expressive add-ons to enhance your messaging experience.
- Telegram Bots: Bots are automated accounts that can perform various tasks, such as providing news updates, weather forecasts, and more.
Security and Privacy
One of Telegram’s biggest selling points is its focus on security and privacy. Telegram claims that all user activities, including chats, groups, and shared media, are encrypted. This means that they are not visible without decryption. Additionally, Telegram offers a “Secret Chat” feature that allows users to set self-destruct timers on messages and media.
Telegram uses its proprietary messaging protocol called “MTProto” for end-to-end encryption. However, it’s important to note that Telegram’s protocol is not entirely open-source and lacks external scrutiny from cryptographers. Moreover, Telegram copies users’ address books to its servers for notification purposes, and not all metadata is thoroughly encrypted.
Government Access and Controversies
Telegram’s stance on user privacy and security has led to controversies and clashes with governments. While Telegram is end-to-end encrypted, the company holds the encryption keys, unlike Signal. This practice has raised concerns about government access to user data.
Telegram has been associated with instances where it has been the preferred platform for terrorists and anti-government activists to share information. Governments around the world have attempted to obtain user encryption keys from Telegram, but the company has consistently refused to comply.
Despite these controversies, Telegram remains committed to providing a secure messaging platform for its users.
Using Telegram is simple and straightforward. Download the app on your preferred platform, sign in with your mobile number, and grant the necessary permissions. Telegram will sync your contacts who are also on the platform, allowing you to connect with them easily.
To enhance your Telegram experience, you can download third-party stickers from the web or the Telegram store. However, with the current rush of new users, constant notifications about contact joins can become overwhelming. To disable these notifications, navigate to the Telegram Settings and adjust the New Contacts notification toggle.
With its combination of security, cross-platform availability, and feature-packed functionality, Telegram has gained popularity among users looking for an alternative to mainstream IM apps. While it has faced controversies and government scrutiny, Telegram remains dedicated to providing a secure and private messaging experience for its users. So, if you’re considering switching to a new IM app, Telegram might just be the right choice for you.