What’s Up with Turning to Telegram as your Messaging Platform?

23 Feb

WhatsApp’s new 2021 privacy terms sent millions of users into a tailspin. Some had a deeper understanding of what these new terms meant and didn’t react, while others jumped on the panic bandwagon and considered the alternatives such as turning to Telegram.

One of the alternative messaging platforms that have been seeing a flurry of attention while WhatsApp flails about reassuring users that their security won’t be compromised, is Telegram. We take a closer look at this messaging platform to determine if the grass really is greener on the other side.

why telegram over whatsapp?

One question that begs to be answered is why so many are turning to Telegram as the alternative messaging platform of choice? The belief is that Telegram encrypts conversations with industry professionals divulging that extremist groups have used the messaging service for that very reason… and with no REAL questions asked.

While Telegram does indeed offer encryption, it’s not quite as “locked up” as one might think. For instance, users need to go out on a limb to trust that the service will not cooperate with government agencies in order to carry out surveillance on messages between users.

The reality is that Telegram only encrypts data sent between your mobile phone and Telegram’s server. If you want end-to-end encryption to prevent Telegram’s server from seeing your messages, you have to turn that on yourself each time you chat.

why leaving whatsapp doesn’t make total sense

If you have tested out the Telegram service and prefer it to WhatsApp, then the decision has been made for you. However, if you left the service because you ‘bought’ in to all the excitement about a “WhatsApp privacy issue”, you may have made, or are about to make, a rash decision based on some misinformation.

With all the hype surrounding the new privacy policy, WhatsApp has responded by postponing the new policy cut-off date to May 15 and is working to clear up the confusion caused.

WhatsApp has also clarified that while some data will be shared with parent company Facebook, the content of your WhatsApp messages still has the same end-to-end encryption. And, just by the way, if you already make use of Facebook, it’s safe to assume that the company already has your data!

IT security professionals have shed some light on where Telegram falls short in terms of privacy and security for its users. There’s nothing wrong with its privacy policies and methods. However, Telegram is not as heavily encrypted as people believe it is and it almost pales in comparison to WhatsApp in terms of encrypting the content of communication between users.

WhatsApp offers automatic end-to-end encryption of all messages and calls. Not even the WhatsApp servers have access to what you are sending to people in your messages. You don’t have to toggle anything, activate anything, or turn anything on. WhatsApp just automatically offers you this encryption.

turning to telegram is not necessarily the best choice for everyone

As an alternative messaging service, Telegram is certainly an option but before you make the decision to switch, you need to know that:

  • End-to-end encryption on chats has to be activated every time you chat.
  • There is no “secret chats” feature for group chats.
  • The default chat history of all chats is saved on the Telegram server. This means that when you install the service on a new mobile phone, your chat history is immediately available – stored by the Telegram server!
  • Telegram is located in the UAE which has a poor reputation for hacking and carrying out surveillance, especially on human rights activists. It’s important however to note that Telegram claims it does not store data in the UAE.

On merging whatsapp chats to telegram

Telegram has advised new users that they can merge their chat history, videos, photos, and documents, from WhatsApp to Telegram. They have also said that unlike older apps, this data won’t take up additional space on the user’s mobile phone. Sounds almost too convenient, and it would appear to be a further security risk!

In a nutshell, Telegram offers encryption between your device and its cloud-based server and also between its cloud server and your contact, but it is Telegram who controls the encryption.

Once you transfer your data outside of WhatsApp, the end-to-end encryption offered by WhatsApp is no longer at play.

enough said!

You now know more than enough to make an educated decision about the risk of moving from WhatsApp to an alternative messaging service such as Telegram. Before you take the plunge, take a close look at how these new services compare to what WhatsApp is actually offering. Then you decide, and once you do – make sure that you do a complete online backup before you make the move!

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