Given the (anti) WhatsApp privacy sentiments, a lot many people are confused about switching from WhatsApp to Telegram or Signal.

Telegram founder, Pavel Durov shares his candid take on several questions being asked on Telegram encryption and business model.


I hear Facebook has an entire department devoted to figuring out why Telegram is so popular. Imagine dozens of employees working on just that full-time.

I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect your users.

Millions of people are outraged by the latest change in WhatsApp Terms, which now say users must feed all their private data to Facebook’s ad engine [1]. It’s no surprise that the flight of users from WhatsApp to Telegram, already ongoing for a few years, has accelerated.

At about 500 million users and growing, Telegram has become a major problem for the Facebook corporation. Unable to compete with Telegram in quality and privacy, Facebook’s WhatsApp seems to have switched to covert marketing: Wikipedia editors have recently exposed multiple paid bots adding biased information into the WhatsApp Wikipedia article [2].

We have also detected bots which spread inaccurate information about Telegram on social media. Here are the 3 myths they are pushing:

Myth 1. “Telegram’s code is not open-source”. In reality, all Telegram client apps have been open source since 2013 [3]. Our encryption and API are fully documented and have been reviewed by security experts thousands of times. Moreover, Telegram is the only messaging app in the world that has verifiable builds both for iOS and Android [4]. As for WhatsApp, they intentionally obfuscate their code, making it impossible to verify their encryption and privacy.

Myth 2. “Telegram is Russian”. In fact, Telegram has no servers or offices in Russia and was blocked there from 2018 to 2020 [5]. Telegram is still blocked in some authoritarian countries such as Iran, while WhatsApp and other “supposedly secure” apps have never had any issue in these places.

Myth 3. “Telegram is not encrypted”. Every chat on Telegram has been encrypted since launch. We have Secret Chats that are end-to-end and Cloud Chats that also offer real-time secure and distributed cloud storage [6]. WhatsApp, on the other hand, had zero encryption for a few years, and then adopted an encryption protocol funded by the US Government [7]. Even if we assume that the WhatsApp encryption is solid, it’s invalidated via multiple backdoors and reliance on backups [8].

In 2019 alone, Facebook spent almost 10 billion dollars on marketing [9] (I guess this includes paid bots on Wikipedia and other sites).

Unlike Facebook, Telegram doesn’t spend any money, let alone billions of dollars, on marketing. We believe that people are smart enough to choose what is best for them. And, judging by the half a billion people using Telegram, this belief is justified.

[1] – WhatsApp Gives Users Ultimatum – Share Data with Facebook or Lose Access
[2] – In December 2020, the Wikipedia article about WhatsApp had the label “This article may have been created or edited in return for undisclosed payments, a violation of Wikipedia’s terms of use”. Related investigation is discussed here.
[3] – Telegram Source Code
[4] – Reproducible Builds for Telegram Apps
[5] – On Digital Resistance in Russia
[6] – On Telegram Encryption
[7] – U.S. Government Funded The WhatsApp Encryption
[8] – Why WhatsApp Will Never Be Secure
[9] – Facebook Marketing Spending from 2010 to 2019

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