Home / News / World /  This messaging app is booming as Russia blocks Facebook and Instagram

The Telegram messaging app has become a go-to platform since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite concerns over its data security and defenses against misinformation.

It has benefitted from the gap left by Russia's blocking of Facebook and Instagram, offering a platform for mass messaging in a way similar to social media.

According to daily figures provided by Telegram, the app has been downloaded over 150 million times since the beginning of the year, with the official figure of half a billion active users dating back to January 2021.

Prior to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Telegram benefitted from not using the same economic model of the big American platforms that generate revenue with data on their users.

At the same time, Telegram has benefitted from the image of its creators, brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, Russian citizens who left their home country in 2014.

Under pressure from the authorities, Nikolai sold his stake in VK, which he had created, rather than hand over the personal data of activists to the government.

"Telegram is now a very nice revenge story, and we all love a good revenge story," said Enrique Dans, a professor specializing in information systems at the IE Business School in Madrid.

"Will that be enough to make Telegram the world's favorite messaging app? That's a whole lot to say. The app still has a lot of things to demonstrate in areas such as security, encryption and business model," he added.

While the platform run from Dubai claims to be secure, it does not encrypt messages by default, as does the Meta owned WhatsApp says it does.

Russia is blocking Meta Platforms Inc's Facebook, the country's communications regulator said on Friday, in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform.

The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said there had been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020, including restrictions in recent days on state-backed channels like RT and the RIA news agency.

With inputs from agencies

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