Update: Totally ahead of the curve on this one. WhatsApp had an outage yesterday triggering a massive number of new users for Telegram Messenger. They’re claiming to have 100 new users signing up every second. Here’s one news story about this. And now, my original post:
If you’re concerned about your privacy online, and you should be, the announcement this week that Facebook has purchased WhatsApp for US$19,000,000,000 will be a cause for concern.
By coincidence, I was searching earlier this week for something like WhatsApp that would work on my iPod Touch. WhatsApp, incredibly, will only work on phones and not all mobile devices. It won’t work on an iPad, for example.
I came across Telegram Messenger and have just started to use it. It’s not just a WhatsApp replacement — it’s my SMS replacement too. (For most, but not all, SMS messages.)
Telegram is the free brainchild of brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, the founders of VK, the largest social network in Russia.
Its unique selling point is that it offers end-to-end encryption. Here’s what they write about it:
Secret chats are meant for people who really want secure messaging. All messages in secret chats use end-to-end encryption. This means only you and the recipient can read those messages — nobody can decipher or intercept them, including us here at Telegram. Messages cannot be forwarded from secret chats. You can also order your messages to self-destruct in a set amount of time after they have been read by the recipient. The message will then disappear from both your and your friend’s devices. One last difference between secret and ordinary chats in Telegram is that secret chats are not stored in our cloud. This means you can only access messages in a secret chat on their device of origin.
To prove their point, Pavel and Nikolai have offered a huge prize to anyone who can crack their encryption — read what the BBC has to say about this.
I’ve signed up to use Telegram — which is available for Android and iOS (including Internet-connected iOS devices like the iPod Touch and iPad) — and look forward to trying it out.