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What is Telegram? What you need to know about the messaging app

If you’ve been thinking about downloading a new messaging app, you’ve more than likely come across Telegram. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Telegram, including what it is, what features it offers, how encrypted it is, how much it costs and who owns the app.

What is Telegram? 

Telegram is a free, cloud-based instant messaging app available across a range of mobile and desktop platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS and Linux. 

The app saw a sudden surge in popularity in 2021 after WhatsApp announced changes to its privacy policy that would allow it to share data with parent company Meta. 

Telegram offers its users a number of features, including no limits on media sizes, end-to-end encryption in “secret chats” and a huge 200,000-person capacity for group chats. 

There’s also a Bot API to encourage developers to create their own bots for Telegram. 

Alongside Signal, the app has a reputation as one of the most privacy-forward messaging apps. Telegram’s code is also open source and the app supports reproducible builds. 

Is Telegram encrypted? 

All Telegram chats are encrypted, but the amount of encryption you get depends on what type of chat you make. This can lead users to believe their chats are more protected than they actually are. 

Private chat and group chats are protected by server-client encryption, allowing them to live on the cloud, while secret chats benefit from more robust client-client encryption – or end-to-end encryption. This means that only the sender and the receiver can read your messages and not even Telegram can decipher them. If you want the best level of privacy, you should communicate via secret chats. 

Unfortunately, this also means that end-to-end encryption is limited to one-on-one chats and is not available in group chats. 

If you’re interested in reading more about Telegram’s encryption and how the app deals with your data, we spoke to a number of security experts in our guide to Is Telegram Safe?

Is Telegram free? 

Yes, Telegram is free to download and use. 

Who owns Telegram? 

Telegram was founded by Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who are also the creators of Russian social network VK. 

While Telegram was originally founded in St. Petersburg, the brothers have relocated the company a number of times and are currently based in Dubai.

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