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Telegram founder Pavel Durov.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov.

Won’t ever monetize private data: Telegram’s Pavel Durov

  • 'We will never force you to view 30-second ads on Telegram', says Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram.

Instant messaging app Telegram today said it will never monetize users’ private data for profiling for targeted advertisement. “We will never force you to view 30-second ads on Telegram. If we ever introduce ads, the ads will be shown only in large one-to-many channels which are expensive to run due to server and traffic costs (like my channel @durov) and not targeted based on any private data (unlike Facebook). So, no collecting private data, no user profiling etc. And if you don't use our one-to-many channels (which are non-existent in all other messaging apps), you won't see a single ad," said Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram.

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Users who don’t use Telegram’s one-to-many channels, and are instead using the platform for peer-to-peer private communication, are not going to see any ads, Durov said. Durov’s Telegram and competitor Signal have seen an uptick in user interest and downloads since Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its privacy policy last week. Signal had made a similar commitment to its users last week, saying there will never be ads on the platform.

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Durov also took the opportunity to talk about its rival platform. “Signal represents one feature of Telegram, which is Secret Chats. If you think you need a separate app for that feature only, installing it might make sense for you," he said. “Personally though, I find Secret Chats much more usable—and secure. After PRISM I have trouble trusting anything US-based, let alone cryptographers funded by the US government," he added.

While the two platforms have gained prominence due to the controversy, many have also asked how they will treat user data in future. Telegram and Signal have significantly lower user bases than WhatsApp, and experts have said they will have to monetize eventually, which may raise questions around user privacy for them as well. Durov had earlier said Telegram has over 500 million users, while Signal has over 10 million downloads, though its real active user base is still unclear.

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