On March 5th, Telegram, the messaging app often considered more secure than WhatsApp reported disruptions to service. Down Detector revealed problems with access to Telegram in many parts of the European Union, as well as Russia and Iran. The cause of the disruption was probably related to server problems. Then on Twitter, the hashtag #telegramdown started trending, and the company tweeted a response to reassure everyone that they were working to solve the problem. They promised to sort it as soon as possible and asked the European users have patience. Within an hour, they tweeted again to confirm that the issue had been resolved.
This was not the only trouble for Telegram has had in the last few months. In fact, on January 31st, the app was removed from the app store, blocking iOS users from downloading it. At first, no official communication was made, neither form Apple nor the Durov brothers. In this case too, after a few hours it was made clear that its removal was due to inappropriate material that circulated in Telegram’s channels–something that violates the guidelines of the Store. But sending inappropriate material shouldn’t really be a surprise: the app’s standards of security and privacy are almost asking for this type of content. After making the necessary changes, Telegram was once more available on the Apple platform.
Telegram and its main rival, WhatsApp
Telegram was founded in 2013 by two Russian brothers, Pavel and Nikolai Durov. They were already known for being the creators of Vk, the Russian social network which they sold in 2014. Two years ago, the company announced that it had reached a peak of 100 millions active users and 15 billion interactions a day.
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Now it boasts about 180 millions users. The fact that it’s especially widespread in certain countries (such as Iran and Ethiopia), and in certain user communities (hackers, cryptocurrency enthusiasts), mean that Telegram is definitely an app that values encryption. Whatsapp, which was bought by Facebook in 2014, is considered the main rival of Telegram, and they extended end-to-end encryption to all users two years ago. This means only the intended users can encrypt and decipher their messages–not even the boss of the company has that ability. Whatsapp’s idea to make encryption available to the masses came from an American cryptographer, Moxie Marlinspike. It’s a name that’s well-known in this field, but not much beyond that. Marlinspike created his own messaging app called Signal, used mainly by people working with digital security, and activists for privacy–like Edward Snowden. While Signal remains a niche (but growing) service, its open source protocol was used and expanded on by Facebook Messenger for Secret Conversation mode, by Google in Allo, and by Skype.
Telegram launches its cryptocurrency, Gram
The Russian brothers recently decided to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). It involved a coin that–at least initially–has a minimal value, in exchange for an established currency (dollars, Euros or others). It’s a bet that could mean consistent earnings to those who take part in the ICO if the value of the cryptocurrency increases. It’s a way to finance the company: Telegram accumulates capital by selling Grams–the name for the digital coin which is connected to a series of services, like a system for transactions and micropayments.
Available from March, Telegram’s ambitious offer, which aims to earn 1.2 billion dollars, is open both to professional investors and the general public. A single ICO coin (called tokens) is worth 30 cents, but experts say the value is sure to fluctuate. In any case, the launch of Gram seems to be part of the Durov’s plans to create a Telegram Open Network connected to the app’s user base. From how it was presented, it seems like an ambitious project and we’ll see if it gets off the ground.
"C’è una sola cosa orribile al mondo, un solo peccato imperdonabile: la noia". Oscar Wilde. Dalla redazione di Dotmug non ci annoiamo di certo. Sempre alla ricerca di notizie, condiviamo, twittiamo, instagrammiamo in costante connessione con il mondo digital.