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

SINGAPORE – Messaging app Telegram has been in the information just lately for all the erroneous good reasons – these kinds of as for getting joined to crime, misinformation and abuse.

The app has also made waves overseas, with Germany thinking of a ban on it thanks to an influx of extremist information, such as anti-vaccine conspiracy theories that have led to threats of violence.

But what is it that has built the application so common – it now has more than 500 million people – and a hotbed for ripoffs? What can be performed about its difficulties? The Straits Situations clarifies.

1. Mega chat team size a draw

Mr Bryan Tan, a lawyer from Pinsent Masons MPillay who specialises in technological innovation law, attributes Telegram’s attractiveness to its large chat sizing that can go up to 200,000 users – when compared with WhatsApp’s 256-person restrict.

“This enables Telegram to be applied for mega-sized teams, pretty much like a information web page, without having acquiring to run high-priced material servers,” he mentioned, adding that the app also lets buyers to send large documents.

2. Cellular phone number not wanted for account registration

It is optional to supply a phone variety when registering a Telegram account.

“Anonymity performs a big function in the distribute of misinformation, mainly because there is no system of accountability,” reported Associate Professor Edson C. Tandoc Jr from Nanyang Technological College (NTU).

Prof Tandoc, who is from NTU’s Centre for Details Integrity and the World wide web, included: “Get, for case in point, anti-vaccination groups, exactly where people today share details that could not be backed by evidence. Just the quantity of messages that arrive in every single working day can make it convincing for some people.”

But a larger sized issue arising from the escalating use of Telegram and the anonymity it affords is the development of extremist groups, mentioned specialists.

Ms Tania Chin, a partner in the legal litigation crew at regulation business Withers KhattarWong, mentioned: “Coordination of terror assaults, espousing terrorist ideals and the unfold of disinformation are still the biggest threats.”

3. Lack of default close-to-conclude encryption

Dr Natalie Pang, senior lecturer and deputy head of the Communications and New Media Division at the Nationwide University of Singapore, stated close-to-stop encryption is not delivered by default on Telegram as it is with other apps such as WhatsApp.

The encryption makes sure that only the two end users communicating can access the facts shared on the chat.

“In other words and phrases, chats in Telegram can however operate the chance of currently being leaked and accessed by 3rd parties,” Dr Pang said.

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