ST Explains: Why is Telegram so popular and what can be done about its problems?

SINGAPORE – Messaging app Telegram has been in the information lately for all the wrong explanations – such as for remaining connected to crime, misinformation and abuse.

The application has also manufactured waves abroad, with Germany looking at a ban on it due to an inflow of extremist information, together with anti-vaccine conspiracy theories that have led to threats of violence.

But what is it that has manufactured the app so well known – it now has much more than 500 million buyers – and a hotbed for ripoffs? What can be carried out about its troubles? The Straits Instances explains.

1. Mega chat group dimensions a draw

Mr Bryan Tan, a lawyer from Pinsent Masons MPillay who specialises in know-how legislation, attributes┬áTelegram’s popularity to its large chat dimension that can go up to 200,000 users – when compared with WhatsApp’s 256-consumer restrict.

“This will allow Telegram to be utilized for mega-sized teams, almost like a information web site, with no obtaining to operate pricey articles servers,” he explained, introducing that the app also allows users to ship huge information.

2. Mobile phone number not needed for account registration

It is optional to give a cellphone amount when registering a Telegram account.

“Anonymity performs a big part in the unfold of misinformation, for the reason that there is no system of accountability,” reported Affiliate Professor Edson C. Tandoc Jr from Nanyang Technological College (NTU).

Prof Tandoc, who is from NTU’s Centre for Facts Integrity and the World wide web, extra: “Get, for case in point, anti-vaccination groups, exactly where individuals share facts that may perhaps not be backed by proof. Just the volume of messages that come in every single working day can make it convincing for some individuals.”

But a larger situation arising from the increasing use of Telegram and the anonymity it affords is the formation of extremist teams, mentioned industry experts.

Ms Tania Chin, a companion in the legal litigation staff at legislation firm Withers KhattarWong, claimed: “Coordination of terror attacks, espousing terrorist beliefs and the unfold of disinformation are nonetheless the greatest threats.”

3. Absence of default conclusion-to-finish encryption

Dr Natalie Pang, senior lecturer and deputy head of the Communications and New Media Division at the Nationwide College of Singapore, mentioned conclude-to-finish encryption is not delivered by default on Telegram as it is with other apps these kinds of as WhatsApp.

The encryption assures that only the two consumers speaking can obtain the info shared on the chat.

“In other terms, chats in Telegram can continue to run the threat of currently being leaked and accessed by third get-togethers,” Dr Pang claimed.

This implies hackers can use Telegram to unfold malware or ransomware to steal or lock up users’ information.