Telegram boss says messaging app hits 900 million users

AFP , Wednesday 17 Apr 2024

The encrypted messaging app Telegram has reached more than 900 million active users and should pass the one-billion mark within a year, its boss said in an interview published Wednesday.

Pavel Durov
Pavel Durov, founder of the Telegram messaging app AFP


"Telegraph is spreading like a forest fire. Two-and-a-half million users sign up every day," said Pavel Durov, the Russian who founded the company alongside his brother Nikolai, in a rare interview with controversial right-wing US talk show host Tucker Carlson.

People "love the independence. They also love the privacy, the freedom, (there are) a lot of reasons why somebody would switch to Telegram", Durov told Carlson.

The encrypted messaging app, based in Dubai, has positioned itself as an alternative to US-owned platforms, which have been criticised for their commercial exploitation of users' personal data. Telegram has committed itself to never disclosing any information about its users.

Durov said he got the idea to launch an encrypted messaging app after coming under pressure from the Russian government when working at VK, a social network he created in his home country before selling it and leaving Russia in 2014.

He said he then tried to settle in Berlin, London, Singapore and San Francisco before choosing Dubai, which he praised for its business environment and "neutrality".

"I think we're doing a great job with Telegram. 900 million users will probably cross a billion monthly active users within a year from now," he said.

By basing itself in the United Arab Emirates, Telegram has been able to shield itself from moderation laws at a time when Western countries are pressuring large platforms to remove illegal content.

Telegram allows groups of up to 200,000 members, which has led to accusations that it makes it easier for false information to spread virally, as well as for users to disseminate hateful, neo-Nazi, paedophilic, conspiratorial and terrorist content.

Competitor messaging service WhatsApp introduced worldwide limits on message forwarding in 2019 after it was accused of enabling the spread of false information in India that led to lynchings.

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