WHAT IS THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER APP?
Description: Telegram Messenger is a cloud-based communication app usable across all devices; it allows users to send pics, videos, stickers, texts, and other files completely free. Your phone number is required for setup (similar to WhatsApp) but there is also the option of creating a username which is totally public and can be searched by anyone. The app is touted as being extremely secure because of its end-to-end encryption option that can be turned on, allowing users to feel much safer about sending private messages. Under the app’s general question section, users can “created groups for up to 50,000 people or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences.”
Category: Social Networking
APP Store rating: 4+
WHAT DO PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TELEGRAM MESSENGER?
This graphic from their website explains its features, which we elaborate on below:
(Items circled in red are of particular interest to teens.)
- Secret Chats are possible and encouraged. The app explains how to create a Secret Chat message – these messages are not available in the cloud and cannot be accessed on other devices – only the sending and receiving device can access the content of the messages.
- Account self-destruction and messages with self-destruct timer is a key feature. If you lose your device or don’t log into your account for six months, the account will automatically self-destruct. And “if you want to send messages that can vanish without a trace, try using our self-destruct timer…” the app states. This has some similarity to Snapchat and the features it offers.
- Opportunities for connection with tricky people are possible. If users decide to create a username (which is public and searchable by anyone) and are concerned with broadcasting to an unlimited number of people – because “more followers is better” to most teens, this opens the door to unexpected or unwanted contacts.
- Tech savvy teens would enjoy this app because of the option to create bots. It recommends users have some skill in computer programming but provides a link to “Introduction for Developers” where some basics of the what, how, and whys of bots is discussed.
- Features adult content and p-graphy Anyone is able to create content since this is an open-source platform so, though the app rating is 4+, the level of questionable content available is determined by those sending and receiving messages. When setting up the app, a Terms of Service box pops up and states you agree to NOT do a number of different things including “post p-graphy content on publicly viewable Telegram bots or channels.” Notice the distinction of “publicly viewable,” so everything else must be considered fair-game. Feb. 2018 note: Apple removed Telegram for a period of time due to the sharing of child p-graphy.
- There is a hidden doorway to Google. It exists through the very standard “Telegram FAQ” under settings. From here you can get to Google Play Services and then reach a common hidden Google search bar access point.