Telegram

Telegram logo

Telegram is a free and open source, cross-platform, cloud-based instant messaging (IM) software. This service also provides end-to-end encrypted video calling, VoIP, file sharing, and several other features. There are also two official Telegram web twin apps – WebK and WebZ – and numerous unofficial clients that make use of Telegram's protocol.

Quick Facts

Summary

  • Ranked #531th worldwide
  • Active users 400 M
  • Type Messaging Networks
  • Launched date Aug 14, 2013
  • Employees 330
  • Headquarters London, U.K.
  • Parent company Telegram Messenger LLP (2013 - present)

Founders

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Pavel Durov Saint Petersburg
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Nikolai Durov

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $33.5 M
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Data Graphs

personvia Statista.com

Censorship

CensorshipRussia ban Telegram. (via extremetech.com)

On 16 May 2017, Russian media reported that Roskomnadzor was threatening to ban Telegram.

On 13 Apr 2018, Telegram was banned in Russia by a Moscow court, due to its refusal to grant the Federal Security Service (FSB) access to encryption keys needed to view user communications as required by federal anti-terrorism law. Enforcement of the ban was attempted by blocking over 19M IP addresses associated with the service.

On 28 Mar 2018, Roskomnadzor reportedly sent a legally binding letter to Apple asking it to remove the app from the Russian version of its App Store and block it from sending push notifications to local users who have already downloaded the app. On 27 Dec 2018, the largest search engine in Russia, Yandex, removed telegram.org from their search results.

On 18 Jun 2020, the Russian government lifted its ban on Telegram after it agreed to "help with extremism investigations".

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Telegram was launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair founded the Russian social network VK, which they left in 2014 after it was taken over by President Putin's allies. Pavel Durov sold his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after resisting government pressure.

Nikolai Durov created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel Durov provided financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund. Telegram Messenger states that its end goal is not to bring profit, but it is not structured as a non-profit organization.

Telegram is registered as both a British LLP and an American LLC.

Brief History

2013
Aug Telegram was launched by brothers Nikolai Durov and Pavel Durov.

Telegram for iOS was launched.

Oct Telegram for Android was launched.

100,000 daily active users.

Dec The MTProto protocol was fixed during the First Telegram Crypto Contest.
2014
Feb Telegram for Windows Phone was created in a contest for app developers.
Mar Introduced voice messages to Telegram.

15M daily active users.

Aug Broadcast lists were first introduced to Android.
Dec 50M active users.
2015
Jan The first stickers launched.
Mar Added replies, mentions, and hashtags.
Jun Telegram on Apple Watch introduced.

Released the Bot API, an HTTP-based interface.

Launched a platform for third-party developers to create bots.

Sep 60M active users.

12B daily messages.

Added Channels.

2016
Feb 100M active users.

15B messages daily.

Aug Trending Stickers option was added.
Nov Instant View was added.
2017
Mar Introduced end-to-end encrypted voice calls.
2018
Mar 200M active users.
Jul Introduced their online authorisation and identity management system.
2019
Oct 300M active users.
2020
Apr 400M active users.
Dec Added group voice chats.
2021
Jan 500M active users.
Mar Telegram conducted a 5 years public bonds placement worth $1B.
Jun Implemented group video calls.
Jul Introduced the ability for up to 1000 people to watch the streamed video.

Network Features

Accounts

Telegram accounts are tied to telephone numbers and are verified by SMS. Users can add multiple devices to their accounts and receive messages on all of them. The associated number can be changed at any time and when doing so, the user's contacts will receive the new number automatically.

A user can set up a username as an alias that allows them to send and receive messages without exposing their phone number. Telegram accounts can be deleted at any time and they are deleted automatically after six months of inactivity by default, which can optionally be changed from 1 month at the shortest up to 12 months at most with a range between.

The default method of authentication that Telegram uses for logins is SMS-based single-factor authentication. A one-time passcode that is sent via SMS to the user's phone number is required to log into the account by default. Users also have the option to create a password as a form of two-step verification.

Cloud-based Messages

Telegram's default messages are cloud-based and can be accessed on any of the user's connected devices.

Users can share photos, videos, audio messages, and other files (up to 2 gigabytes per file). Users can send messages to other users individually or in groups of up to 200,000 members. Messages in all chats, including groups and channels, can be set to auto-delete after 24 hours, 7 days, or a month, although this will only apply to messages sent after the auto-delete timer is enabled.

Users have the option to schedule messages in personal chats to be sent when the other side comes online.

Secret chats

Secret chatsSecret chat in Telegram. (via telegram.org)

Messages can also be sent with client-to-client encryption in so-called secret chats. These messages are encrypted with the service's MTProto protocol. Messages sent within secret chats can, in principle, be deleted at any time and can optionally self-destruct.

Secret chats have to be initiated and accepted via an invitation, upon which the encryption keys for the session are exchanged. Encryption keys are periodically changed after a key has been used more than 100 times or has been in use for more than a week. Old encryption keys are destroyed.

Channels

ChannelsChannels in Telegram. (via telegram.org)

Channels are a form of one-way messaging where admins are able to post messages but other users are not. Any user is able to create and subscribe to channels. Channels can be created for broadcasting messages to an unlimited number of subscribers.

The creator of a channel can add a discussion group, a separate group where messages in the channel are automatically posted for subscribers to communicate. This enables comments for posts in the channel.

Video and Voice Calls

Video and Voice CallsVideo and voice calls in Telegram. (via telegram.org)

Connection is established as peer-to-peer whenever possible, otherwise, the closest server to the client is used. According to Telegram, there is a neural network working to learn various technical parameters about a call to provide better quality of the service for future uses.

Any group or channel admin can launch a chat, which will be open to all members and ongoing even if no one is currently using it.

Admins of groups or channels have the option to join as their group or channel, hiding their personal account.

Users can also record chats with a red dot shown as a warning during the recording period.

Picture-in-picture mode is also available so that users have the option to use the other functions of the app while remaining on the call. Users can stream video from their camera, share their screen or do both simultaneously.

Stickers

StickersStickers in Telegram. (via telegram.org)

Telegram has more than 20,000 stickers. Stickers are cloud-based, high-resolution images intended to provide more expressive emoji. When typing in an emoji, the user is offered to send the respective sticker instead. Stickers come in collections called "packs", and multiple stickers can be offered for one emoji.

Telegram comes with one default sticker pack, but users can install additional sticker packs provided by third-party contributors.

Telegraph

TelegraphTelegraph. (via telegram.org)

Telegraph is a publishing tool used to create formatted posts with photos and embedded media. It is designed in a minimalist style, the article pages do not contain any controls. Each article on the website is separate, there is no possibility to merge articles into groups or hierarchies.

For each article, the author specifies a title and optionally a subtitle, usually used for the author's name. In addition, the title of the article indicates the date of the first publication, which the author of the article cannot influence.

Instant View

Instant ViewInstant View in Telegram. (via telegram.org)

Instant View is a way to view web articles with zero page load time. With Instant View, Telegram users can read articles from mass media or blogs in a uniform and readable way. Instant View pages are extremely lightweight and cached on the Telegram servers, so they load instantly on pretty much any connection.

Polls

Polls have the option to be anonymous or visible. A user can enter multiple options into the poll. Quiz mode can also be enabled where a user can select the right answer for their poll and leave it to the group to guess. Quiz bots can also be added to track correct answers and even provide a global leaderboard.

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