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Thoughts from the Product Manager / CEO / Founder of Telegram.
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Happy Halloween everyone! 🎃

I hope you liked yesterday’s Telegram update with multi-pins, proximity alerts, playlists and other features.

I just realized I've been using the Android Halloween theme for most of this year, as it goes well with the general mood of 2020.

If you're also on Android, check it out using this link – or choose a similar theme in your Chat Settings among the Dark Theme presets. It works best with the Halloween-inspired side bar, which users of Telegram for Android should be seeing today.

For iOS and Mac, this link should install the Halloween theme.

Do you like this month's trending sticker packs? My personal favorites so far are HalloweenUtya and ShadowKitty (but only because the creator of PepeVampire didn’t come up with enough stickers to get featured).

Feel free to share your favorite Telegram themes and sticker packs in the comments.
Just tried an iPhone 12 Pro – what an incredibly clunky piece of hardware. It looks and feels like an oversized version of an iPhone 5 from 2012, but with an ugly array of cameras sticking out at three different heights. The notorious notch and wide bezels are still there, creating a low screen-to-body ratio and general outdated feeling for the device.

9 years after Steve Jobs died, the company is still living off the technology and reputation he built, without any meaningful innovation. It’s no surprise iPhone sales were down by 21% earlier this year. If this trend continues, in 7-10 years time the global market share of iPhones will be negligible.
As Telegram approaches 500 million active users, many of you are asking the question – who is going to pay to support this growth? After all, more users mean more expenses for traffic and servers. A project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going.

For most of Telegram’s history, I paid for the expenses of the company from my personal savings. However, with its current growth Telegram is on track to reach billions of users and to require appropriate funding. When a tech project reaches this scale, typically there are two options – start earning money to cover the costs, or sell the company.

Hence the question – which path will Telegram take? I’d like to make a few points to clarify our plan:

1. We are not going to sell the company like the founders of Whatsapp. The world needs Telegram to stay independent as a place where users are respected and high-quality service is ensured. Telegram must continue to serve the world as an example of a tech company that strives for perfection and integrity. And, as the sad examples of our predecessors show, that is impossible if you become part of a corporation.

2. Telegram is here to stay for a long time. We began developing our apps for our personal use over 8 years ago and have come a long way since then. In the process, Telegram changed the way people communicate in several aspects – encryption, functionality, simplicity, design, speed. This journey has just started. There’s much more we can – and will – bring to the world.

3. In order to make points 1 and 2 possible, Telegram will begin to generate revenue, starting next year. We will do it in accordance with our values and the pledges we have made over the last 7 years. Thanks to our current scale, we will be able to do it in a non-intrusive way. Most users will hardly notice any change.

4. All the features that are currently free will stay free. We will add some new features for business teams or power users. Some of these features will require more resources and will be paid for by these premium users. Regular users will be able to keep enjoying Telegram – for free, forever.

5. All parts of Telegram devoted to messaging will remain ad-free. We think that displaying ads in private 1-to-1 chats or group chats is a bad idea. Communication between people should be free of advertising of any sort.

6. In addition to its messaging component, Telegram has a social networking dimension. Our massive public one-to-many channels can have millions of subscribers each and are more like Twitter feeds. In many markets the owners of such channels display ads to earn money, sometimes using third-party ad platforms. The ads they post look like regular messages, and are often intrusive. We will fix this by introducing our own Ad Platform for public one-to-many channels – one that is user-friendly, respects privacy and allows us to cover the costs of servers and traffic.

7. If Telegram starts earning money, the community should also benefit. For example, If we monetize large public one-to-many channels via the Ad Platform, the owners of these channels will receive free traffic in proportion to their size. Or, if Telegram introduces premium stickers with additional expressive features, the artists who make stickers of this new type will also get a part of the profit. We want millions of Telegram-based creators and small businesses to thrive, enriching the experience of all our users.

This is the Telegram way.

It will allow us to keep innovating and keep growing for decades to come. We will be able to launch countless new features and welcome billions of new users. While doing that, we will remain independent and stay true to our values, redefining how a tech company should operate.

UPD: More on this topic – https://teleg.eu/durov/153
Today marks one of the most important product updates in the history of Telegram – Voice Chats 🎙

With Voice Chats, every group on Telegram gets a synchronous dimension that runs in parallel with its text-based stream. They are best on Android with overlays which are visible on top of other apps, but also look great on iOS with the sticky push-to-talk button and interactive animated waves. On Desktop, you can assign any shortcut to speak in Voice Chats while using other apps.

Check out the demos in the blog and make sure to update Telegram to the latest version:
https://telete.in/s/blindexing/voice-chats

P. S. Minor fixes may be required in the iOS app for slicker animations in large voice chats. We’ll be able to push them to the AppStore in 4 days when the responsible team at Apple returns from holidays.
🎇
I hear Facebook has an entire department devoted to figuring out why Telegram is so popular. Imagine dozens of employees working on just that full-time.

I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect your users.

Millions of people are outraged by the latest change in WhatsApp Terms, which now say users must feed all their private data to Facebook’s ad engine [1]. It’s no surprise that the flight of users from WhatsApp to Telegram, already ongoing for a few years, has accelerated.

At about 500 million users and growing, Telegram has become a major problem for the Facebook corporation. Unable to compete with Telegram in quality and privacy, Facebook’s WhatsApp seems to have switched to covert marketing: Wikipedia editors have recently exposed multiple paid bots adding biased information into the WhatsApp Wikipedia article [2].

We have also detected bots which spread inaccurate information about Telegram on social media. Here are the 3 myths they are pushing:

Myth 1. “Telegram’s code is not open-source”. In reality, all Telegram client apps have been open source since 2013 [3]. Our encryption and API are fully documented and have been reviewed by security experts thousands of times. Moreover, Telegram is the only messaging app in the world that has verifiable builds both for iOS and Android [4]. As for WhatsApp, they intentionally obfuscate their code, making it impossible to verify their encryption and privacy.

Myth 2. “Telegram is Russian”. In fact, Telegram has no servers or offices in Russia and was blocked there from 2018 to 2020 [5]. Telegram is still blocked in some authoritarian countries such as Iran, while WhatsApp and other “supposedly secure” apps have never had any issue in these places.

Myth 3. “Telegram is not encrypted”. Every chat on Telegram has been encrypted since launch. We have Secret Chats that are end-to-end and Cloud Chats that also offer real-time secure and distributed cloud storage [6]. WhatsApp, on the other hand, had zero encryption for a few years, and then adopted an encryption protocol funded by the US Government [7]. Even if we assume that the WhatsApp encryption is solid, it’s invalidated via multiple backdoors and reliance on backups [8].

In 2019 alone, Facebook spent almost 10 billion dollars on marketing [9] (I guess this includes paid bots on Wikipedia and other sites).

Unlike Facebook, Telegram doesn't spend any money, let alone billions of dollars, on marketing. We believe that people are smart enough to choose what is best for them. And, judging by the half a billion people using Telegram, this belief is justified.

[1] – WhatsApp Gives Users Ultimatum – Share Data with Facebook or Lose Access
[2] – In December 2020, the Wikipedia article about WhatsApp had the label “This article may have been created or edited in return for undisclosed payments, a violation of Wikipedia's terms of use”. Related investigation is discussed here.
[3] – Telegram Source Code
[4] – Reproducible Builds for Telegram Apps
[5] – On Digital Resistance in Russia
[6] – On Telegram Encryption
[7] – U.S. Government Funded The WhatsApp Encryption
[8] – Why WhatsApp Will Never Be Secure
[9] – Facebook Marketing Spending from 2010 to 2019
I’ve been taking part in the discussion in the comments and answering questions. Here are some of the responses:

On Apple-Google censorship https://teleg.eu/durovschat/518801

On making server-side code open https://teleg.eu/durovschat/515221

On a privacy-conscious ad platform https://teleg.eu/durovschat/527441

On US-based encrypted apps https://teleg.eu/durovschat/519187

On encryption vs. usability when using Secret Chats vs Cloud Chats https://teleg.eu/durovschat/527081

On maximising security of communication https://teleg.eu/durovschat/527134

On storing hashed phone numbers https://teleg.eu/durovschat/551030

On how Telegram stores data https://teleg.eu/durovschat/544164
In the first week of January, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. After that it kept growing: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone. These new users came from across the globe – 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America and 8% from MENA.

This is a significant increase compared to last year, when 1.5M new users signed up every day. We've had surges of downloads before, throughout our 7-year history of protecting user privacy. But this time is different.

People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services. They no longer want to be held hostage by tech monopolies that seem to think they can get away with anything as long as their apps have a critical mass of users.

With half a billion active users and accelerating growth, Telegram has become the largest refuge for those seeking a communication platform committed to privacy and security. We take this responsibility very seriously. We won’t let you down.

Those of you who have used Telegram for the last several years know we’ve been consistent both when it comes to defending private data and to improving our apps. For those of you who just joined and are wondering what Telegram stands for, I’d like to quote my post from 2018:

You – our users – have been and will always be our only priority. Unlike other popular apps, Telegram doesn’t have shareholders or advertisers to report to. We don’t do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven’t disclosed a single byte of our users' private data to third parties.

We operate this way because we don’t regard Telegram as an organization or an app. For us, Telegram is an idea; it is the idea that everyone on this planet has a right to be free.
Since my last post, the already massive influx of new users to Telegram has only accelerated. We may be witnessing the largest digital migration in human history.

Following this global phenomenon, two presidents started their Telegram channels:

The President of Brazil – @jairbolsonarobrasil
The President of Turkey – @RTErdogan

They join a list of other heads of state already present on the platform:

The President of Mexico – @PresidenteAMLO
The President of France – @emmanuelmacron
The Prime Minister of Singapore – @leehsienloong
The President of Ukraine – @V_Zelenskiy_official
The President of Uzbekistan – @shmirziyoyev
The President of Taiwan – @iingtw
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia – @AbiyAhmedAliofficial
The Prime Minister of Israel – @bnetanyahu

(Note that such verified accounts typically show a blue check mark in your chat list and search results.)

We are honored that political leaders, as well as numerous public organizations, rely on Telegram to combat misinformation and spread awareness about important issues in their societies.

Unlike other networks, Telegram doesn’t use nontransparent algorithms to decide whether a subscriber will see content they subscribed to or not. As a result, Telegram channels are the only direct way for opinion leaders to reliably connect with their audiences.

By removing the manipulative algorithms that have become synonymous with 2010s technology platforms, Telegram channels restore transparency and integrity to public “one-to-many” communication.
For the last two weeks, the world has been following the events in the United States with concern. While the US represents less than 2% of our user base, we at Telegram have also been watching the situation closely.

Telegram welcomes peaceful debate and protest, but our Terms of Service explicitly prohibit distributing public calls to violence. In the last 7 years, we’ve consistently enforced this rule globally, from Belarus and Iran to Thailand and Hong Kong. Сivil movements all over the world rely on Telegram in order to stand up for human rights without resorting to inflicting harm.

In early January, the Telegram moderation team started to receive an increased number of reports about US-related public activity on our platform. The team acted decisively by clamping down on US channels that advocated violence.

Thanks to these efforts, last week our moderators blocked and shut down hundreds of public calls for violence that could’ve otherwise reached tens of thousands of subscribers. The team continues to process reports from users in addition to proactively removing content that directly incites violence.

I would like to thank everyone who reported public channels that crossed the line. Keep it up! We value each of your reports. Telegram welcomes political debate coming from all sides of the political spectrum – but will act swiftly to stop those who incite people to inflict harm on others.
Some users wanted a way to move their chat history from WhatsApp over to Telegram. Two weeks ago I realized this should be theoretically possible, and yesterday we made this feature available on both iOS and Android, together with many other improvements. It also supports migrating chats from KakaoTalk and Line – two other Pre-Telegram apps.

Nothing like this has ever been made possible by a major app, and our team had to implement some serious magic to make it work. We are happy with the result: moving messages to Telegram allows people to save disk space and stop worrying about third-party backups or changing devices.

The feature currently imports messages to the end of the target Telegram conversation, but retains the original timestamps of messages. Some folks have been asking whether we can mix the existing messages in a Telegram chat with the imported messages in one unified timeline. This should be possible if the target chat (where you import messages to) has fewer than 100 messages, so we’ve started to work on that.

We’ll also provide free APIs for third-party developers who want to create tools that will allow users to import messages to Telegram from anywhere. Hopefully, such tools will help add support for more apps than this first wave of three – and also allow users to import multiple chats or their entire inbox at once.

The original meaning of the paper plane on the Telegram logo means “freedom”. For us, freedom of choice and data portability are paramount. People should be in complete control over their own data – and their own lives.
The "capitalism <-> socialism" opposition seems outdated. I prefer to think in terms of "centralization vs decentralization". Humans have evolved to perform best in small groups of less than 150 people. That's why wherever there's centralization and excessive hierarchy, there's inefficiency and underutilized human potential. Capitalist monopolies and socialist dictatorships are equally bad.

In a natural environment, every small community is able to produce an outstanding leader and an independent thinker. In today's world of trillion-dollar monopolies and bloated governments, the potential of hundreds of millions of people is suppressed by the limitations imposed by our artificial societal structures.

That is the reason why tens of thousands of people working at big corporations such as Facebook have failed to keep up with what our small team at Telegram has been implementing. That’s also the reason why countries like Russia fail to generate and retain global brands in their jurisdictions. Genuine creativity is rare in organizations and societies built on excessive hierarchies and lack of personal autonomy.
Telegram became the most downloaded mobile app in the world in January 2021.

For the last 7.5 years, Telegram has steadily climbed the rankings for popular apps. Since its launch in 2013, Telegram’s user base has grown over 40% each year.

What’s our secret? Consistency.

For the last 7.5 years we’ve consistently defended the privacy of our users and regularly improved the quality and feature set of our apps.

Anyone who stays true to their values and applies focused effort over a long period of time is bound to succeed in their area. This is true for any human occupation – sport, blogging, art, coding, business or studying.
Why users shouldn’t worry about ads on Telegram

I read an article that cautioned users from switching to Telegram from other apps, because "Telegram is going to introduce ads". This is misleading for at least 3 reasons:

1. There will be no ads in chats on Telegram. Users who rely on Telegram as a messaging app, not a social network, will never see ads. Private chats and group chats are and will always be ad-free. As I outlined in December, ads are being considered only in large one-to-many channels (like this one), which do not exist in any other messaging app. So users ditching older apps for Telegram won’t increase the number of ads in their lives.

2. User data will not be used to target ads. We believe that collecting private data from users to target ads the way WhatsApp-Facebook do is immoral. We like the approach of privacy-conscious services like DuckDuckGo: monetizing services without collecting information about users. So if we introduce ads in one-to-many-channels, they will be contextual – based on the topic of the channel, not targeted based on any user data.

3. We are fixing ads that are already here. In most markets, content creators on Telegram already monetize their content by selling promotional posts in their channels. This is a chaotic market with multiple third-party ad networks pushing intrusive ads that create a negative user experience. We want to fix this situation by offering a privacy-conscious alternative for channel owners.

Users will be able to opt out of ads, but I do think that privacy-conscious ads are a good way for channel owners to monetize their efforts – as an alternative to donations or subscriptions, which we are also working to offer them.

Our end goal is to establish a new class of content creators – one that is financially sustainable and free to choose the strategy that is best for their subscribers. Traditional social networks have exploited users and publishers for far too long with excessive data collection and manipulative algorithms. It’s time to change this.
With today’s update, we're giving every Telegram user the power to run their own radio station (later this Spring: TV station) without adding any complexity to our apps.

I’m proud we were able to roll out this new version of Telegram just 3 weeks after our previous major update. What’s more, this came at no expense to the quality of new features – you’ll experience the high speed, wide functionality and slick animations that you love Telegram for.

The update has been approved by both Apple and Google for several hours now. Due to Apple’s tech issues, iOS users may have to wait a few more hours for the new version to hit the store. Users of all other platforms can already enjoy Voice Chats 2.0 and other features.
🎉 More good news – I am happy to share that Telegram has raised over $1 billion by selling bonds (a form of debt) to some of the largest and most knowledgeable investors from all over the world. This will enable Telegram to continue growing globally while sticking to its values and remaining independent. These resources will also fuel the monetization strategy I outlined in December.

As I said when launching Telegram almost 8 years ago, the end goal for Telegram is to become a financially sustainable project that can serve humanity for decades (or centuries) to come. Today's news is another step towards that goal.
🎂 My Mom’s turning 70 today. She is the main reason I am who I am today. In school I was a self-willed kid that often clashed with teachers. My mom always supported me - she never sided with anybody but her sons.

She is kind and full of energy, but also one of the smartest and wisest people I know. Born in a princely family that had been deported to Siberia from Kiev during the October Revolution, she studied in Russia's best universities, lived in Germany and then Italy where she educated students.

Happy birthday, Mom! We love you ❤️
My Mom Albina a few decades ago and myself in the early 90s. Do I look like Mom?