Telegram Blocks 78 ISIS-Related Communication Channels

Popular encrypted messenger application Telegram has confirmed that it has blocked 78 ISIS-related public channels across 12 languages on its network.

Following bad press about its encrypted messaging app being used by extremists of the Islamic State, Telegram has announced the shutting down of 78 ISIS-related public channels. The company noted that the public channels used by ISIS to spread propaganda were shut down following a careful review of user reports identifying such channels.

In a clever move, the statement making the announcement requires readers to sign up for Telegram as a service. For those of you who aren’t Telegram users, here are a few excerpts from Telegram’s announcements.

We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda.

Adding that 78 ISIS-related channels were blocked “this week alone,” there was little doubt that the outcry of millions aided with news coverage such as this recent Reuters article that claimed Telegram as an effective marketing tool for ISIS, helped in forcing Telegram to make the unprecedented move of blocking multiple public channels.

The blocking and booting of ISIS-related channels was also an inevitability, with mainstream social platforms such as Twitter that have shut down thousands of ISIS-related accounts.

Telegram’s announcement also explained that private chats between users remain private while publicizing the email address where ISIS channels-related complaints were forwarded to:

All Telegram chats and group chats are private amongst their participants. We do not process any requests related to them. But sticker sets, channels, and bots on Telegram are publicly available. If you find sticker sets or bots on Telegram that you think are illegal, please ping us at abuse@telegram.org.

Inevitably, the announcement was met with questions that queried whether private conversations are being snooped into.

The appeal of Telegram for privacy proponents and as things have panned out, terrorists, is clear. Telegram uses the MTProto protocol, a custom protocol that enables reliable encryption on even weak mobile connections. The protocol also safeguards encrypted messages that are contain media such as photos, videos and data files up to 1.5 GB. Furthermore, a ‘secret chat’ service ensures that none of the messages are backed up to a cloud while ensuring end-to-end encryption, according to Telegram, which the terrorists were certainly keen about.

An FAQ from Telegram’s website also added:

While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions.

Among its FAQs, Telegram also adds that it is more secure than mass market messengers such as Whatsapp and Line.

Featured image from VICE/Youtube.

Author:
Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.