How Censorship of Other Apps Made Telegram the Second Most Downloaded App in the USA

Apps Mar 17, 2021

Messenger Telegram has become the second most downloaded app in the United States. Probably, this was influenced by several factors at once: the blocking of Donald Trump's Twitter and Facebook accounts, the removal from the App Store and Google Play of the Parler social network, which his supporters used, as well as the new privacy policy of another popular messaging application - WhatsApp. In what other countries is Telegram popular and what happens to the audience of other messaging applications - in the material of "MBH Media."

What happened

Americans began to massively download Telegram after the untimely blocking of Donald Trump's Twitter and Facebook accounts. It was preceded by January 6, when supporters of the current American president gathered in a demonstration in his support in Washington and stormed the Capitol building.

Perhaps, it was also influenced by the fact that Apple and Google removed the social network Parler from their platforms, into which Trump supporters switched. The Internet giants explained such measures by the possibility of publishing "unwanted content," in particular, calls to violence. Not long before that, various users of this service urged like-minded people to download Telegram. As reported by The Daily Telegraph, Parler was the most popular service in the US App Store by the time of the blocking, among free applications.

Another reason for the growth in popularity of Telegram is probably the new policy of its main competitor - WhatsApp, which on January 8 updated the agreement and added a clause stating that it will now send personal data of users to Facebook. The next day, Pavel Durov spoke about the massive transition of users from WhatsApp to Telegram.

In turn, the head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart, said on January 12 that after the update of the rules, neither the administration of the messenger nor Facebook would read private chats and listen to calls. According to him, the innovation is associated with greater transparency: the company wants to better explain to users the interaction of people and commercial accounts. But it seems that very few people believed it.

Where else is Telegram popular?

In the United States, since January 6, 2021, Telegram has been installed more than 540 thousand times, which is almost three times more than a week earlier. By the way, the messenger can be removed from the AppStore and Google Play following Parler - Apple and Google ban applications that do not block Trump supporters for calling for protests. Telegram was removed from app stores before, but it worked properly for those who already installed it.

By the way, this is not the first time that protests and riots have brought Pavel Durov's messenger a new audience.

This application is very popular in Iran. For example, as of April 2017, it was installed in 40 million people (the country's population is about 80 million), while in Russia at that time, about 6 million people downloaded the messenger. In Iran, the messenger has been repeatedly blocked - for the first time back in the fall of 2015. There he is the only platform where you can freely discuss politics and criticize the authorities. Now it is officially blocked throughout the country, but it works quite stably.

The fight against Telegram has long been waged in China. The messenger was blocked back in July 2015, when the administration refused to provide the local special services with user data. For a while, the application worked through a VPN, but then the government obliged all VPNs to obtain a permit to work in the country.

For several weeks, problems with access to the web version of the messenger were noted in Indonesia. In July 2017, local authorities ordered to block access to Telegram due to "a large number of channels spreading radical propaganda, calls for terror and other information prohibited by Indonesian law." However, the founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, rather quickly agreed to meet the Indonesian authorities' demands after blocking the messenger, after which the Minister of the country of communications admitted that the administration of the service was taking measures to combat prohibited content.

After Russia stopped blocking Telegram in the summer of 2020, Pavel Durov urged administrators of proxy servers, which had previously been targeted at Russians, to shift efforts to other countries, particularly to China and Iran.

In addition, last year, the messenger became a platform for the self-organization of protesters in Belarus. During the mass actions that began after the presidential elections, the country began to close access to some websites and turn off the Internet. Then the founder of the messenger, Pavel Durov, said that anti-censorship tools were activated in the application - and indeed, the messenger was unstable, but it worked. This allowed some Telegram channels to publish information about where doctors are needed in the presence of wounded, address medicines, drinking water, and food was left, and wrote about dangerous areas in which riot police were moving and published addresses where they could hide.