How Telegram seduced 100 million of users
The secret recipe of Telegram, this polemical message-service app which just announced attaining 100 million users: ultra-confidentiality + iconoclastic communication.
Matrix-like looks, punchlines and great promises: Pavel Durov knows how to get in the spotlights. The founder of VKontakte, the “Russian Facebook”, is now at the head of Telegram, the message-service application hunting on the territories of the WhatsApp giant. Born in Ukraine and raised in Italy, Durov moved to Russia for his first steps as an entrepreneur.
His social network shaped for the Russian public is booming but it also attracts the interest of the Kremlin, of which interventions do not really please this convinced ultra-liberal. In order to exchange with his collaborators, he thus launches an ultra-secure message service with all data stored in the cloud in server spread all across the world.
This message will self-destruct…Even better, Telegram offers to send transient messages which are not stored anywhere and disappear shortly after being read. Unlike VKontakte, which was clearly targeted at the Russian public, Telegram was directly conceived in English because Pavel Durov does not intend to satisfy himself with only one market. And information security is one of his main arguments, along with the possibility to access one’s messages from any device, unlike WhatsApp.
So far, Telegram has already attracted 100 million users who exchange over 10 billion messages daily. And these already impressive numbers might only be the beginning since Pavel Durov’s app is experiencing an amazing boom. In less than a year, the number of messages sent was multiplied by five.
This growth does not come without its difficulties. If the confidentiality model promoted by Pavel Durov won the favors of Edward Snowden and many human rights advocates, the possibility not to be spied on easily also enabled ISIS to use it on a large scale to escape the surveillance of western intelligence services.
For a long time, Telegram avoided the issue by claiming to be only a tool and not to be responsible for what the users do with the app, but its managers have changed their mind and announced last fall the closing of 78 canals used by jihadists.