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Telegram use rises as WhatsApp extends policy take-off till May

Telegram use rises as WhatsApp extends policy take-off till MayProbably because its features have not been adequately explored, mixed feelings on the part of subscribers have continued to trail the use of the social media platform, Telegram.

Although it has been in existence since August 2013, the popularity of Telegram, especially in Nigeria came to the fore some weeks back following plans by Facebook-owned communication app—WhatsApp, to introduce a new privacy policy, which to some extent restricts users.

WhatsApp has been the most used social media platform in Nigeria. The Global State of Digital in 2019 report claimed that at least 85 per cent of Nigeria’s 24 million active social media users are on WhatsApp.

However, the event of the last two weeks, which planned to culminate into the introduction of a new privacy policy, initially scheduled for February 8, but now shifted to May 15, forced users to migrate to other platforms, including Telegram.

Except there are changes, WhatsApp will from May 15, start sharing users data with Facebook, which include last seen, profile pictures, group name, icon, phone number, among others.

Already, the plan switch from WhatsApp has become a blessing for other messenger platforms. For instance on Wednesday, Telegram announced it has surpassed 500 million active users.

According to the platform, in the past few days, more than 25 million new users from around the world joined it.

Indeed, while some use the platform for communications, checks showed that many are just on the platform because someone added them to a group, meaning that they didn’t actually subscribe directly to the platform.

Telegram was created with a view to challenging the primacy of WhatsApp. It differs from the latter in allowing users to access accounts from multiple devices. Its makers also claim that its multi-data centre infrastructure and encryption makes it more secure than its Facebook-owned rival.

Users are able to have ‘secret chats’, which see messages stored on devices as opposed to the cloud. Messages can also be set to self-destruct – akin to Snapchat.

It has, however, drawn criticism from security experts, who point to the lack of default end-to-end encryption, and its proprietary encryption protocol.

Report claimed that one-time login passwords conveyed by SMS have been intercepted by hackers in Iran, Russia, Brazil, and Germany (by the police in the last case).

Speaking with media source, a user, Esther Olatunji, who uses both WhatsApp and Telegram, said she will continue to use the former despite the new privacy policy.

Olatunji said: “Unlike Telegram, WhatsApp supports both voice and video calls. So this is a very strong point for WhatsApp. Also, Telegram, like WhatsApp has various bots, file-sharing, platform compatibility and privacy, but does not have a video call function and has a smaller user base.”

“Different people have different requirements; so, they will judge something based on their requirements. And if there is something that the majority of the people follow then it doesn’t necessarily need to be better. So, merely because WhatsApp has more users doesn’t probably mean it is better. People follow the vogue and are reluctant to decide on their own which one is better.”

Isaiah Onwuanuba, a media practitioner, still prefers WhatsApp to Telegram, and will not ditch the former for the latter, even with the new privacy policy.

Onwuanuba prefers WhatsApp because of its flexibility. “Flexibility of Telegram cannot be compared to that of WhatsApp. For me, content sharing on WhatsApp is flexible and seamless compared to Telegram.”

On his part, Stanley Ndubuisi, who plans to migrate from WhatsApp to Telegram as soon as the policy becomes effective, believes the latter is way more advanced than the former, noting that groups on Telegram can accommodate as much as 19,000 members, and doesn’t consume lots of data.

Bimbola Oladokun said she prefers Telegram when it comes to study groups. “Even if you join today, you are able to access documents and messages, which were uploaded prior before joining. Telegram helped me when I was an undergraduate.”

Telegram has features including; custom folders, Hide Your ‘Last Seen’ From Certain Users, Drafts; Auto-download and Auto-play Media, Self Destruct Messages on Secret Chats, among others.

“Telegram gives you an option where you can select who can see your last seen time. To configure this, go to “Settings”, “Privacy and Security” and then tap on “Last Seen & Online”. You can share it with everybody, or people in your contact list, or nobody, or add exceptions like “never share with” XYZ.

“Similar options are available for sharing your phone number and profile photo. You can also select who can add a link to your account when forwarding messages, who can call you, and who can add you in groups,” a document explained.

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