One of the household names in the industry of messengers has been gained by Telegram – an encrypted service originating from Russia. Its fame was predestined: in the beginning the founder of the project had to flee from Russia where according to his assumptions he used to be put under pressure. Then Telegram became an instant success in Iran, where it immediately won the overall attention from special forces. Then within two days it was instantaneously installed by 1.5 million users in India. The success was related to a message rumoring a so-called Indian origin of the service that was being spread among Indians via social networks and competing messengers.
February 2014: due to a 1.5-hour blackout of WhatsApp Durov’s service was downloaded and registered 1.8 million times within a day. October 2014: the messenger became popular in South Korea due to the messages from the prosecution office about an upcoming social network monitoring on the subject of unreliable rumors traveling around. Then twice, in December 2015 and spring 2016 the service was installed in Brazil 4 and 7 million times respectively, both times with users migrating from WhatsApp that was temporarily blocked by the country’s authorities.
The project team’s activity is regularly accompanied by scandals and loud press statements and all the actions more often than not look quite well-thought-out. Adherers of such conspiracy theories tend to find enough ideas to digest but in the middle of this stardust one can see that:
- Telegram is convenient, well-thought-out and is a good information exchange tool;
- The service does not disclose any financial results except for pre-ICO;
- The messenger declares security but doesn’t seek to prove it.
And the last thing on the list that probably undercuts long-lasting efforts of the team to win a reputation of the ‘first uncompromising encrypted messenger’. This controversial statement has been best of all formulated by Moxie Marlinspike, founder of Signal:
Durov wants to exchange privacy for trust (to a particular person)
He described Telegram founder’s logic with a phrase ‘billionaires can be trusted since they cannot be bought’. The developer also noted that the essence of end-to-end encryption is that if the protocol works, like in the case with Signal – users don’t need to trust anybody else.
In this case it doesn’t really matter how Pavel Durov responded. We see that the project hasn’t had any audit checks. Instead there’s a constant search for vulnerabilities in the form of competitions with large prize funds – they do attract a lot of attention, mass media and cause a lot of hype again. But experts do not trust such actions. They are not public and therefore cannot be checked.
That was quite a picturesque act of defiance when Telegram refused to follow the rules of the Russian legislature: earlier on such defiance led to blockage of such services as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), LINE, Imo.im and a lesser known Vchat. The first one on the “To Be Blocked” list in April 2017 was an audio messages exchange app Zello. All the enlisted companies refused to timely present the data for its inclusion into the state registry. On April, 13th, 2018 the court ruled Telegram would be blocked, but they failed to block it even after blocking 20 million IP addresses. Like it was earlier the owner of the service keeps repeating he’s never partnered and is not going to partner with either Russian or foreign special forces.
The position of top project managers does not look as impeccable as one can judge by the headlines in the press: the messenger keeps blocking channels and groups upon requests from various countries’ representatives. The contents of requests are not disclosed though, neither is it known how decisions regarding censorship were being made. Facts like these, leaving mark on a brand image are usually covered by some positive excuses to switch the attention of the target audience. And such strategy does prove its efficiency at large.
The audience of the messenger is growing non-stop, although ‘under the hood’ there’s still that very open message history in smartphones’ databases, like in the case of all the industry leaders.
A LINK TO THE THIRD VIDEO
There is no any special way of encryption in Telegram. Instead it is successfully replaced by declarations about the most reliable protocol and the top level of encryption. Telegram’s success is supported by a recent fundraising when during the initial pre-sale the project managed to raise about $850 million from a number of large investors, including Sequoia Capital and Benchmark. During the next round which is reportedly announced via a secret mail-out the total amount of raised funds is going to be comparable with the first pre-sale.
A good illustration of a productive PR campaign can be the fact that information about a planned ICO, project documentation and pre-sale announcements did not receive a single public confirmation from official Telegram representatives. Users learned about the pre-sale having taken place in February, 2018 when Pavel Durov informed the Securities and Exchange Commission (USA) about the raised funds.
However, there are those who refused to invest in this messenger. Among them: Pantera Capital, one of the first companies that started to invest in crypto currencies. Its research associate Charles Noyes evaluated the planned ICO quite with criticism:
When they do it this way – that is in a closed manner, secretly without any evaluation from experts, there’s a chance to make a mistake at the very beginning. It might be minor but it can ruin the whole network.
At the time of paper telegrams messages to be sent used to be printed on paper stripes and delivered to addressees openly. It was implied that during delivery none of the staff would be reading the contents of the message. But in real life things worked differently. So gradually telegrams started to be used for congratulations and death notices only. Later on, they vanished completely.