The rate at which many people have been registering on the Telegram chat platform has been on huge increase since the Facebook Group made up of Facebook itself, Instagram and WhatsApp crashed for about 6 hours on 4th October 2021.
Many friends and foes who had argued that they will never join Telegram because it was not as friendly as WhatsApp are now flocking to the erstwhile ‘unpopular’ platform. Just look away from, or shut down your Telegram for a minute and the next time you opened it, there are notices of ‘Charles has joined Telegram’, ‘Tony has joined Telegram’, ‘Olu has joined Telegram’. And the platform does not discriminate. It also does not hide anyone. Once you join, almost everyone in the world, including those who did not have your phone numbers, will know you have joined.
But Telegram seems to be the only other choice, at least in the event of another outage affecting WhatsApp. Let’s face it – the last outage practically brought everybody to a halt as far as communicating is concerned. And it showed the power of communication in the modern world. Governments, corporate bodies, agencies and individuals did not know what to do. The incident also brought to the fore the power of technology and its owners. Everyone knows now, the power in Mark Zuckerberg’s hands and what he can do with it. It also shows how powerful any crazy person out there can also be, if he or she can bring a big company like the Facebook group down and how such an act can affect the whole world.
Telegram has suddenly become the new bride whom everyone has to cultivate. Some of our old folks touted Skype and several other alternatives like Yahoo messenger and Windows Live which have been in existence even longer than WhatsApp. However, it is clear they are not in the same league as WhatsApp and Telegram.
For those of us who have been on Telegram for some years,, it is nothing new. Some of us actually prefer it for several reasons. For one, it was always more quiet because most of our contacts were not on the platform. And you can always ‘catch’ an elusive person on it. But now, that holiday is about to end. Almost all our friends are migrating to Telegram, as an extra or alternative to their WhatsApp, in case of the unexpected; or is it the expected?
So many WhatsApp users in Nigeria have quickly found succuor in Telegram, because it is a similar platform which many groups have in the last couple of years encouraged their members to move to, because it has larger capacity to accommodate group members, as against WhatsApp’s maximum of 256 members per group.
Competition between WhatsApp and Telegram has been fierce, and it is not only in the capacity of groups.
Telegram was launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair founded the Russian social network, Vkontakte or VK, which they left in 2014 after it was reportedly taken over by President Putin’s allies. Pavel Durov sold his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after resisting government pressure.
Forbes puts Pavel Durov as Number 112 on its billionaire’s list. His Forbes real time networth is $17.2B as at today, 18th October 2021.
As the now recognised founder and owner of Telegram which is said to have more than 500 million users worldwide, Pavel Durov has made his app free to use and made it to compete with WhatsApp owned by Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg, as a messaging app.
Durov is known as Russia’s Zuckerberg, having created VK, which is still Russia’s biggest social network. He founded VK when he was just 22; in 2015 he sold a 12% stake in the social network for an estimated $300 million.
Now 37, the self-made, single man, resides in Dubai, from where he runs his business.
Telegram prides itself with providing unlimited storage. This means all text messages, images and documents are saved on cloud. Users can log out and log in any number of times from any number of devices simultaneously without losing any data, and they do not need to worry about backing up or restoring.
Group members’ capacity seems to be Telegram’s biggest selling point as a Telegram group can afford up to 200,000 members, compared to WhatsApp’s 256 maximum members per group.
Users can communicate with anyone on Telegram even if they don’t have the contact number of those people. It is the name that shows. This ensures the privacy of the user’s contact number. Group members can continue to send messages in a group without revealing their phone numbers.
Like WhatsApp, Voice calls and Video calls are enabled on Telegram. I find Telegram’s voice calls very clear and natural.
There is no doubt that WhatsApp has been very popular and it has taken Telegram a while to cut into the popularity which years of WhatsApp have provided. Its end-to-end encryption has also made it preferred for businesses that have not had alternatives, although Telegram only uses it for secret chat.
More users have been on WhatsApp and the links with Facebook and Instagram has provided a wider platform with acceptability cutting across ages, businesses and levels of education.
However, with last week’s outage, the world has seen the advantage of making use of two or more chat platforms so that there is alternative when one goes down. Telegram’s delight in its secret conversations, availability on several platforms, free of use, speed, privacy, support of larger file sizes and cloud storage is likely to give it more popularity than it currently has.
So, welcome to Telegram, but know that the saying, ‘No condition is permanent’, is even more relevant in the current technologically advanced world where many developments are coming up every day. What happened to WhatsApp can also happen to any other app because hackers are getting advanced in their devilish thinking and ideas daily.
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist, writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.