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Durov's Channel

563116 @durov

This is where I post thoughts about Telegram in a slightly less formal and more direct way than in the official Telegram blog (~70% of which is also written mostly by yours truly). Subscribe only if you're a hardcore Telegram fan.

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    Until recently, 70% of all Telegram usernames had been reserved in inactive channels by cybersquatters from Iran. This created a graveyard of dead usernames that cluttered search results and prevented millions of Telegram users from selecting appropriate public addresses for their accounts, groups and channels. Users who wanted to acquire these reserved usernames often received no response or ended up being scammed. Fortunately, this situation has started to change. In mid-August, we withdrew all public Telegram addresses linked to channels that were empty or inactive for the last year. We will gradually reintroduce 99% of these addresses into public use, this time with algorithmic and geolocation limitations so that more users, and not just a select few, can benefit. As for the highest-valued short usernames, the most efficient and fair way to distribute them seems to be by the auction I mentioned in my previous post. This way, those who acquire these catchy links will be motivated to put them to good use and bring value to our users with original content hosted at recognizable t.me addresses. I don't doubt that those who hoarded Telegram usernames are disappointed, but this change will benefit the vast majority of our users. I look forward to seeing how millions of great Telegram addresses will be revived and finally start serving our community. P.S. In anticipation of the things to come, today we are adding support for dedicated links like username.t.me for every username on Telegram (in addition to t.me/username). These web sites are already functional in any browser.
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    I'm really impressed by the success of the auction TON recently conducted for their domain/wallet names. Wallet.ton was sold for 215,250 Toncoin (~$260000) while casino.ton was sold for ~$244000. If TON has been able to achieve these results, imagine how successful Telegram with its 700 million users could be if we put reserved @ usernames, group and channel links for auction. In addition to millions of catchy t.me addresses like @storm or @royal, all four-letter usernames could be made available for sale (@bank, @club, @game, @gift etc). This would create a new platform where username holders could transfer them to interested parties in protected deals – with ownership secured on the blockchain via NFT-like smart-contracts. Other elements of the Telegram ecosystem, including channels, stickers or emoji, could later also become part of this marketplace. When it comes to scalability and speed, TON probably has the best technology to host such decentralized sales. Our team can write bullet-proof smart contracts for TON (since it was us who invented its smart-contract language), so we are inclined to try out TON as the underlying blockchain for our future marketplace. Let's see if we can add a little bit of Web 3.0 to Telegram in the coming weeks.
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    It was an interesting engineering challenge to ensure that hundreds of vector-based emoji with smooth animations could simultaneously play on the screen of any mobile phone. Telegram is the first company ever to have implemented this in a mobile app. Adding custom emoji to the text of any message is just the first step of the upcoming visual revolution on Telegram. In a few weeks, users will be able to add any custom emoji as a reaction to a message and display an emoji as their current status next to their name. All of this will become available to Premium subscribers first, because they are the ones who make it possible for Telegram to stay free and private for everyone.
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    After extensive media coverage of my previous post, Apple got back to us with a demand to water down our pending Telegram update by removing Telemoji – higher quality vector-animated versions of the standard emoji. This is a puzzling move on Apple's behalf, because Telemoji would have brought an entire new dimension to its static low-resolution emoji and would have significantly enriched their ecosystem. But it's good for Telegram long term, as we will now make Telemoji even more unique and recognizable. Besides, we have included 10 other emoji packs in today's update – together with the ability for any user to upload their own emoji.
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    I love my work. What could be more exciting than improving the way hundreds of millions of people communicate? Members of our team, myself included, must be some of the luckiest people alive. The only thing that we find discouraging is that we're often unable to distribute the new versions of Telegram due to the obscure "review process" imposed on all mobile apps by the tech monopolies. For example, our upcoming update – which is about to revolutionize how people express themselves in messaging – has been stuck in Apple's "review" for two weeks, without explanation or any feedback provided by Apple. If Telegram, one of the top 10 most popular apps globally, is receiving this treatment, one can only imagine the difficulties experienced by smaller app developers. It's not just demoralizing: it causes direct financial losses to hundred of thousands of mobile apps globally. This harm goes on top of the 30% tax Apple and Google take from app developers – which, according to them, is supposed to pay for the resources needed to review apps. The regulators in the EU and elsewhere are slowly starting to look into these abusive practices. But the economic damage that has already been inflicted by Apple on the tech industry won't be undone.
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    Happy Solstice! ☀️✨ 🎉 Telegram now has over 700 million monthly users. With the latest update, we have also launched the Premium subscription on most devices. The beauty of Telegram Premium is that if just 2,5-3% of our users sign up for this subscription, Telegram will cover its costs, supported purely by its users. This will herald a new, user-centric era in the history of social media services. Thank you for loving Telegram! We ❤️ you back.
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    Telegram Web provides an extraordinary experience on desktops, but it also works great on mobile devices. It is prevented, however, from reaching native-app-level quality on iOS, because Apple limits web developers in terms of what they can do on iPhones and iPads. In April, the developer of Telegram Web shared a 10-point list of issues in the iOS Safari browser that Apple has been unwilling to fix or improve for years (check it here for technical details). Other developers have even complained that Apple's Safari is killing the web. We suspect that Apple may be intentionally crippling its web apps to force its users to download more native apps where Apple is able to charge its 30% commission (I wrote about why it is harmful here). Fortunately, regulators have started to realise what is going on. This week, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a UK regulator, concluded:
    "Apple bans alternatives to its own browser engine on its mobile devices; a restriction that is unique to Apple. The CMA is concerned this severely limits the potential for rival browsers to differentiate themselves from Safari (for example, on features such as speed and functionality) and limits Apple’s incentives to invest in its browser engine.
    
    This restriction also seriously inhibits the capability of web apps – apps that run on a browser rather than having to be individually downloaded – depriving consumers and businesses of the full benefits of this innovative technology."
    
    
    I think it's an accurate summary and hope that regulatory action will follow soon. It's sad that, more than ten years after Steve Job's death, a company that once revolutionized mobile web turned into its most significant roadblock.
  • Durov's Channel

    Since the day Telegram was launched almost 9 years ago, we've been giving our users more features and resources than any other messaging app. A free app as powerful as Telegram was revolutionary in 2013 and is still unprecedented in 2022. To this day, our limits on chats, media and file uploads are unrivaled. And yet, many have been asking us to raise the current limits even further, so we looked into ways to let you go beyond what is already crazy. The problem here is that if we were to remove all limits for everyone, our server and traffic costs would have become unmanageable, so the party would be unfortunately over for everyone. After giving it some thought, we realized that the only way to let our most demanding fans get more while keeping our existing features free is to make those raised limits a paid option. That's why this month we will introduce Telegram Premium, a subscription plan that allows anyone to acquire additional features, speed and resources. It will also allow users to support Telegram and join the club that receives new features first. Not to worry though: all existing features remain free, and there are plenty of new free features coming. Moreover, even users who don't subscribe to Telegram Premium will be able to enjoy some of its benefits: for example, they will be able to view extra-large documents, media and stickers sent by Premium users, or tap to add Premium reactions already pinned to a message to react in the same way. While our experiments with privacy-focused ads in public one-to-many channels have been more successful than we expected, I believe that Telegram should be funded primarily by its users, not advertisers. This way our users will always remain our main priority.
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    The media often calls me a billionaire, but, unlike most billionaires, I don't own jets, yachts, cars or houses. Creating things always seemed to me a more rewarding activity than engaging in consumption.
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    The world is on the brink of a global food crisis. Hundreds of millions of people are facing starvation. To help those in need, last month the UAE ran the successful 1 Billion Meals initiative – a fundraising campaign aimed at providing a billion meals for the most vulnerable people in 50 countries. Hundreds of donors participated. The founder of the campaign, Sheikh Mohammed, donated 400 million meals, and I contributed a modest 12 million. Hopefully, many more people can join the initiative in the following years and we can collectively achieve the Zero Hunger goal set by the UN.
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    In 2022, Telegram is again among the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world (just like in 2021). Of these top 5 most popular apps, Telegram is the only one that doesn't spend billions on marketing to buy downloads. In a way, we are the only app that is on the list purely because it is genuinely loved by the people❤️‍🔥
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    Telegram shipped another historic update this past weekend. In addition to features that redefine the boundaries of what a messaging app can do (never before have bots been so powerful or notification options so flexible), we introduced half a dozen other improvements. Among them is support for more languages in message translations (to turn on the Translate button, head to Settings > Languages). We recognize that Telegram has become the main source of information from Ukraine, and we hope that the tools we provide can help inform more people and save more lives. To ease the work of journalists around the world, all public channel posts in Ukrainian now always offer the translate button by default.
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    It seems that we had an issue with emails going between our telegram.org corporate addresses and the Brazilian Supreme Court. As a result of this miscommunication, the Court ruled to ban Telegram for being unresponsive. On behalf of our team, I apologize to the Brazilian Supreme Court for our negligence. We definitely could have done a better job. We complied with an earlier court decision in late February and responded with a suggestion to send future takedown requests to a dedicated email address. Unfortunately, our response must have been lost, because the Court used the old general-purpose email address in further attempts to reach us. As a result, we missed its decision in early March that contained a follow-up takedown request. Luckily, we have now found and processed it, delivering another report to the Court today. Because tens of millions of Brazilians rely on Telegram to communicate with family, friends and colleagues, I ask the Court to consider delaying its ruling for a few days at its discretion to allow us to remedy the situation by appointing a representative in Brazil and setting up a framework to react to future pressing issues like this in an expedited manner. The last 3 weeks have been unprecedented for the world and for Telegram. Our content moderation team was flooded with requests from multiple parties. However, I am certain that once a reliable channel of communication is established, we'll be able to efficiently process takedown requests for public channels that are illegal in Brazil.
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    If you follow my posts, you know that on my Mom's side, I trace my family line from Kyiv. Her maiden name is Ukrainian (Ivanenko), and to this day we have many relatives living in Ukraine. That's why this tragic conflict is personal both to me and Telegram. Some people wondered if Telegram is somehow less secure for Ukrainians, because I once lived in Russia. Let me tell these people how my career in Russia ended. Nine years ago I was the CEO of VK, which was the largest social network in Russia and Ukraine. In 2013, the Russian security agency, FSB, demanded that I provide them the private data of the Ukrainian users of VK who were protesting against a pro-Russian President. I refused to comply with these demands, because it would have meant a betrayal of our Ukrainian users. After that, I was fired from the company I founded and was forced to leave Russia. I lost my company and my home, but would do it again – without hesitation. I smile with pride when I read my VK post from April 2014, which shows the scanned orders from the FSB and my trademark response to them – a dog in a hoodie. When I defied their demands, the stakes were high for me personally. I was still living in Russia, and my team and my old company were also based in that country. Many years have passed since then. Many things changed: I no longer live in Russia, no longer have any companies or employees there. But one thing remains the same – I stand for our users no matter what. Their right to privacy is sacred. Now – more than ever.
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    Messages on WhatsApp were left open to potential attackers for years, as detailed in recent leaks about Boldend – a US cyber-warfare startup (more here). Since the creation of WhatsApp, there's hardly been a moment in which it was secure: every few months researchers uncover a new security issue in the app. I wrote about this in detail 2 years ago (read here if you missed it). Nothing has changed since then. It would be hard to believe that the technical team of WhatsApp is so consistently incompetent. Telegram, a far more sophisticated app, has never had security issues of such severity.
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    🥳✨ 2021 was a phenomenal year for Telegram. It became the most downloaded app in the world in January, managed to welcome 70 million new users in just one day in October, and was declared the fastest growing app of the year in December. We know we owe this growth to you – our users – so we carefully listened to your feedback and kept making Telegram better for you throughout the year. Yesterday we released our 12th major update this year, packed with the features you requested – like reactions and message translation 👌 With each update we try to not simply add a missing feature, but instead expand its boundaries and redefine how it looks, feels and works. We hope that this approach can improve the quality of human communication and bring more efficiency, happiness and joy to the world 💫 The spoiler animations we just rolled out are pure magic, while the custom animated QR codes in this update make QRs sexy again. The newly added message reactions are already spectacular, but it's just the start: we are now busy finding ways to make them even more stunning 🔥 I'm grateful for your love of Telegram and excited by what we can do for you in 2022. Thank you – and have a glorious New Year! 🎄
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    A recent report has proven that Telegram sticks to its promise of keeping its user data private, while apps like WhatsApp give real-time user data to third parties, and despite their numerous claims about "E2E encryption", can also disclose message contents. The report has confirmed that Telegram is one of the few messaging apps that doesn't breach their users’ trust. I am not surprised. Most other apps couldn't guarantee privacy to their users even if they wanted to. Because their engineers reside in the US, they have to secretly implement backdoors in their apps when the US government orders them to. If an engineer speaks publicly about it, then can go to jail for breaching a gag order. In most cases the agencies don't even need a court order to extract private information from messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and in other cases, court documents are shrouded in secrecy. Some supposedly secure apps have been funded by government agencies from their inception (e.g Anom, Signal). For many years the National Security Agency (NSA) has been making sure that international encryption standards are in line with what the NSA can decipher, and all other approaches to encryption are labeled as "non-standard" or "home-brew". Through their proxies in the encryption industry (like this one), the NSA imposed flawed standards onto the encryption used by the rest of the world, cautioning everyone else from "rolling out their own encryption". No wonder US-based apps such as WhatsApp are plagued with backdoors – intentionally planted security loopholes that governments (and anybody else) can use to hack smartphones and extract private data from people. I hear our US-based competitors are frustrated that they can't match Telegram's growth, despite heavily investing in marketing (something Telegram has never had to invest in). But in order to match our growth, they have to first make sure their actions match their marketing claims. Until then, data breaches and security issues in their apps will, unfortunately, remain unavoidable.
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    When Telegram said goodbye to TON last year, I expressed the hope that future generations of developers would one day carry on with our vision of a mass-market blockchain platform. So I was inspired to see the champions of Telegram's coding contests continue developing the open TON project, which they rebranded to Toncoin. I'm proud that the technology we created is alive and evolving. When it comes to scalability and speed, TON is still years ahead of everything else in the blockchain realm. It would have been a shame to see this project not benefitting humanity. Unlike the original TON, Toncoin is independent from Telegram. But I wish its team the same success. Coupled with the right go-to-market strategy, they have all they need to build something epic 💪