What is Telegram and How Do I Use It?

What is Telegram? It’s one of the hottest instant messaging services out there. Here’s what it is — and why you might want to use it.

Free and cross-platform, Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging software and app service. Increasingly popular because of its commitment to privacy, the free service includes plenty of features that make it worth considering. Here’s a quick look at how to use Telegram.

What is Telegram?

On the surface, Telegram looks like other instant messaging services in the marketplace and provides similar tools. You can send messages, photos, videos, and files and create groups and broadcasting channels. And yet, the service is unlike any other instant messaging service. For one, it isn’t tied to one platform or service, as it’s currently available on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and through the web. You can also use Telegram on Apple Watch. With the Telegram API, developers can also add the service into apps for other platforms.

And then there’s the service’s signature encryption. The service currently supports two layers of secure encryption. Private and group chats offer server-client encryption. Secret chats also use client-client encryption.

Secret Chats?

If you want to add a security layer, you can communicate with someone else in Telegram using secret chats. No one except you and your recipient can read these messages, nor can they be forwarded. You can set timers on messages, photos, videos, and files to self-destruct after a set amount of time with secret chats. Secret chats are also device-specific and not part of the Telegram cloud. You can only access messages in a secret chat from the device of origin.

Other Benefits

Telegram offers another security feature — usernames. To communicate on the service, all you have to do is give your username to others, not your phone number. With usernames, you have more control over what information is out there and how people can contact you. By default, your phone number is only visible to people who you’ve added to your address book as contacts.

Because it’s cloud-based, Telegram also provides seamless sync, which allows you to access your messages across all of your devices at once. Additionally, your content is also hosted in the cloud, so Telegram doesn’t need a lot of space on individual smartphones, tablets, or computers. You can also use multiple accounts on the same device.

How to Use Telegram

There are a few other points about Telegram worth mentioning. One is global message deletion. Introduced in 2019, the feature lets users delete messages sent by other users during one-to-one private chats. When this ‘nuclear option’ is selected, any trace of communication between you and someone else in Telegram is gone on every device for both of you. Most instant messaging services don’t even come close to providing this type of control.

Telegram also receives kudos for providing every user with 2GB in message storage. Other services don’t come anywhere close.

Finally, the instant messaging service also features third-party bots, with which users can interact by sending them messages, commands, and inline requests. These bots can perform various tasks such as gaming, accepting payments, provide customized news and notifications, and more. The service is also known for its group-based chat rooms, where an unlimited number of people can discuss a variety of subjects securely.

Newest Feature

In January 2021, Telegram rolled out a new feature that lets you bring your chat history, including videos and documents, from other services. This service allows you to save space (since the content is kept in the cloud) while also adding a security level in maintaining individual and group chats. The export feature works with apps like WhatsApp, Line, and KakaoTalk.

Other Important FAQs

Depending on where you look online, you might think the Russian government owns Telegram. This isn’t the case. Pavel Durov, who is Russian, is the founder and CEO of Telegram. In 2015, he fled the country with his brother, Nikolai Durov, who also founded Telegram. The service is based in Dubai.

Does Telegram Share Data With Third Parties?

By design, Telegram stores its data across many servers across several countries.  As Telegram explains:

Thanks to this structure, we can ensure that no single government or block of like-minded countries can intrude on people’s privacy and freedom of expression. Telegram can be forced to give up data only if an issue is grave and universal enough to pass the scrutiny of several different legal systems around the world.

To this day, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments.

Are There Costs To Making Voice Calls?

Telegram doesn’t charge for its services, including voice calls. However, if you’re using your phone’s cellular account when making a call, it will go against your storage limit, if applicable.

So About That Phone Number …

You don’t need to show your phone number to other service users. You can look for other users through a username.

How to Use Telegram

The easiest way to get started with Telegram is by downloading its official app on Android or iOS, then creating an account.

To do so:

  1. Tap on the Telegram app on your mobile device.
  2. Select Start Messaging.
  3. Add your phone number.
  4. Enter the code sent to your phone.
  5. Add your first and last name, then click Next.

That’s it! You have now joined Telegram. If other users are on your Contact list, they will be sent a text saying that you are now a member. It’s also worth noting that there is a desktop client, too. It’s available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Logging Out

As previously noted, the service’s secret chat feature is end-to-end encrypted. Be aware that when logging out of your account on a specific device, you’ll lose access to your secret chats. You can also delete your Telegram account with ease.

What is Telegram: When Privacy is Important …

Personal data isn’t 100% secure online. And yet, some services do a better job at protecting someone’s information than others. With many big tech companies like Google and Facebook selling personal data to the highest bidder, it’s nice to see a service like Telegram grow in popularity. The service is secure, committed to privacy, and guarantees that it doesn’t sell personal information to anyone. In 2021, those are worthwhile points for anyone concerned about big brother.

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