October 2, 2022

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Software Development

ST Explains: Why is Telegram so popular and what can be done about its problems?

SINGAPORE – Messaging application Telegram has been in the information a short while ago for all the mistaken causes – these kinds of as for becoming connected to crime, misinformation and abuse.

The application has also created waves abroad, with Germany thinking of a ban on it because of to an inflow of extremist articles, such as anti-vaccine conspiracy theories that have led to threats of violence.

But what is it that has designed the app so common – it now has a lot more than 500 million users – and a hotbed for ripoffs? What can be finished about its complications? The Straits Situations clarifies.

1. Mega chat team measurement a draw

Mr Bryan Tan, a lawyer from Pinsent Masons MPillay who specialises in technological know-how regulation, attributes Telegram’s recognition to its big chat dimension that can go up to 200,000 people – in comparison with WhatsApp’s 256-person restrict.

“This lets Telegram to be utilised for mega-sized teams, nearly like a news web-site, without getting to operate high priced material servers,” he reported, incorporating that the application also enables people to deliver substantial information.

2. Mobile phone amount not desired for account registration

It is optional to provide a cellular phone quantity when registering a Telegram account.

“Anonymity plays a huge position in the spread of misinformation, for the reason that there is no system of accountability,” explained Affiliate Professor Edson C. Tandoc Jr from Nanyang Technological College (NTU).

Prof Tandoc, who is from NTU’s Centre for Info Integrity and the World-wide-web, added: “Take, for instance, anti-vaccination groups, where people today share info that may possibly not be backed by proof. Just the quantity of messages that come in every working day can make it convincing for some folks.”

But a much larger difficulty arising from the escalating use of Telegram and the anonymity it affords is the development of extremist groups, stated experts.

Ms Tania Chin, a associate in the felony litigation staff at law company Withers KhattarWong, stated: “Coordination of terror assaults, espousing terrorist beliefs and the spread of disinformation are even now the best threats.”

3. Lack of default close-to-conclude encryption

Dr Natalie Pang, senior lecturer and deputy head of the Communications and New Media Section at the Countrywide College of Singapore, said conclusion-to-end encryption is not offered by default on Telegram as it is with other apps these kinds of as WhatsApp.

The encryption guarantees that only the two consumers communicating can entry the information shared on the chat.

“In other words and phrases, chats in Telegram can however operate the threat of staying leaked and accessed by 3rd events,” Dr Pang reported.

This indicates hackers can use Telegram to spread malware or ransomware to steal or lock up users’ facts.