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Crypto Still Waits for Full Telegram Privacy as Messenger Adds End-to-End Encryption

Last Updated December 7, 2023 12:53 PM
Josh Adams
Last Updated December 7, 2023 12:53 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Messenger has announced it will make chats and calls private by default.
  • Previously, not all messages were end-to-end encrypted.
  • Telegram, one of the world’s most popular chat apps, has yet to do the same.

Meta’s popular Messenger app is unveiling a significant improvement to user privacy, rolling out default end-to-end encryption for all personal chats and calls.

The news is the latest step for the industry towards private by default. However, one of the world’s most popular messenger services still has to catch up – Telegram, the app of choice for those in crypto and digital assets, and one of the top-5 most downloaded apps in the world. 

Meta’s Facebook Messenger Gets Much-Needed Updates

The Messenger update, announced on December 6, will mean messages and calls will be protected in transit from the sender’s device to the receiver’s device. “This means that nobody, including Meta, can see what’s sent or said, unless you choose to report a message to us,” said Loredana Crisan, Head of Messenger, in the announcement . This change will bring the service in-line with WhatsApp, another app owned by Meta.

Messenger has offered opt-in end-to-end encryption since 2016, but now it will be the default for over a billion users. In addition to bolstering privacy, default encryption unlocks new features for Messenger, bringing it more in line with competitors like Signal and Telegram when it comes to user control.

One new addition is the ability to edit sent messages for up to 15 minutes after sending. This allows users to fix typos or retract something sent prematurely. However, previous versions of edited messages will still be visible if reported to Meta for abuse monitoring.

Disappearing messages now last for 24 hours before being deleted, with improved interfaces making it easier to tell when they are enabled. As Crisan noted, “This will help people be confident that their messages stay secure and won’t stick around forever.”

There is also a new read receipt feature allowing users to hide when they have viewed messages, reducing pressure to respond right away. Crisan stated that “We know people value their privacy, and this feature gives you the ability to feel less pressure to respond immediately.”

On the media front, image quality is being upgraded along with easier photo access and new layouts and reactions. File sharing improvements are also slated in coming months as Messenger continues working to optimize the user experience.

There will also be upgrades to voice messaging. Users can now speed up playback, pick up where they left off, and keep listening even when switching chats or apps. 

Telegram Has Yet to Catch Up On Privacy

Messenger’s privacy rollout has been cautious. The announcement stresses it took time to rebuild features and consult experts to balance privacy with safety. Nevertheless, it got there in the end.

The same cannot be said for Telegram, which does not have default end-to-end encryption yet. Instead, Telegram users can enable encryption via “secret chats,”  but the default settings mean Telegram itself can access messages. 

CCN reached out to Telegram for comment and they confirmed they had no plans to roll out end-to-end encryption by default.

However, they said that “every chat on Telegram is securely encrypted,” and their approach gives users access to features that aren’t possible with end-to-end encryption, but that “Secret Chats” are there for “when additional security is required.”

The company claims it doesn’t read customer messages. However, Telegram has the encryption keys for all regular chats, not secret ones. While spying on customers would harm their business, users must decide if they trust Telegram with their data.

According to their official privacy policy, Telegram also stores metadata (like when a message was sent, by whom, user name changes, IP addresses, and devices used) for up to 12 months. On its own, this might seem trivial, but metadata can be crucial in revealing a user’s behavior. Not everything is about the content of the message.

Telegram’s lack of privacy by default – and its popularity within the crypto community — may not make sense at first glance. After all, crypto users are definitely among the most privacy-conscious of netizens, and with the expanding role of zero-knowledge proofs, that is arguably becoming even more so.

Signal, on the other hand, is more similar to Messenger in making end-to-end encryption standard for all conversations, keeping encryption keys exclusively in the user’s hands. But what you don’t get with either app is Telegram’s more social experience — including more public channels and groups, better support for bots and automated services, and stickers and customization options.

Although, privacy in messaging apps is still an ongoing concern. In September, Reuters revealed  how the SEC was investigating the use of private messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp on Wall Street. The regular has asked for financial sector employees to share messages on personal devices or applications during the first half of 2021, according to those familiar with the story.


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