War against Telegram

puppet-122911_960_720

“Lythe and listin gentilmen
That be of frebore blode
I shall tel of a gode yeman
His name was Robyn Hode”

True to its M.O. (more on that later), Facebook appears to be launching an all out war against cloud-based messaging service, Telegram. Late last year, we discovered that Whatsapp was blocking links to Telegram on Android devices.

Now, Instagram has just joined the ban-all-links-to-telegram club. Telegram tweeted last night, that “another Facebook tentacle closes on users’ ability to share a link to their Telegram profile”.

telegram instagram

Links to LinkedIn, Twitter et al are allowed in users’ profiles, but Telegram is not.

Add to the fact that I saw on their FAQ page, that Facebook had long taken down their page from its platform, and it starts to look like the guys at Menlo Park are doing whatever they can – ethical or not – to hamper Telegram’s growth. We’ve known for a while now, how vested Facebook is in keeping users within its ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Telegram has seen some pretty steep growth rates recently, and for a variety of reasons too. One is that Telegram combines the speed of WhatsApp with the ephemerality of Snapchat, and some pretty advanced security measures – all features that made it the de facto communication platform for ISIS operatives before their public channels were blocked.

Talking about security, Telegram uses an open source protocol called MTProto. It was developed by co-founder Nikolai Durov, and is said to be “the most secure mass market messaging system in the world”. So secure that they are offering $200,000 to anyone who can crack it. Good luck with that.

It may also be because they don’t seem to have any economic interests in the provision of their service. As seen in their FAQ – “Telegram is not intended to bring revenue, it will never sell ads or accept outside investment. It cannot be sold.” Also…

s2

…as seen on their FAQ page…

They have also released the code for their Android, iOS and desktop/web apps, plus they allow any developer build a Telegram client of their own.

Much of Telegram’s appeal for me is that they appear to be a modern-day Robin Hood, who has the interests of the masses at heart (especially privacy), as opposed to larger corporations that offer free services and sell access to the users of the product to make money. Friendly reminder that access to our data on the platforms we use is at the whim of the owners of said platforms and their economic interests. Eesh.

This isn’t the first time Facebook is using link-blocks as a weapon against other smaller services, though. Recently, it came under fire for blocking all mentions of a social network called Tsu.co that pays its users a percentage of all its ad revenue. And in the past, they’ve blocked links to torrent sites like PirateBay (under the guise that they’re protecting intellectual property).

I’m interested to see how this Robin Hood vs. Facebook situation plays out in the next few years. Do you think Telegram is being duplicitous? Or they are but a minor inconvenience to Facebook/Whatsapp? Let have a conversation on Radar.