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Telegram CEO says app will continue to host ‘war-related content’ after coming under fire for Hamas videos

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As social platforms like X (previously Twitter), Meta and TikTok face off with regulators and the theater of public opinion for a way they’re dealing with incendiary and graphic content material, disinformation, writing and different media associated to Hamas and Israel, Pavel Durov, the CEO of Telegram, has controversially come out to defend how his messaging app is not taking down among the extra delicate war-related protection that may be discovered there, claiming that it might show to be an essential channel for info.

He additionally went on to tell apart it from social media, since customers solely see content material to which they subscribe. (Sure, that doesn’t bear in mind how content material posted on Telegram will get shared.)

In his Telegram put up at present, Durov — borrowing among the extra “high-level” language that different social media executives have used — mentioned that “Telegram’s moderators and AI instruments take away thousands and thousands of clearly dangerous content material from our public platform,” however he additionally swiftly moved on to defending the app persevering with to permit delicate content material beneath the class of “war-related protection.”

“Tackling war-related protection is seldom apparent.” (He doesn’t outline what the road is between “clearly dangerous” and “war-related protection.”)

“Whereas it could be straightforward for us to destroy this supply of data, doing so dangers exacerbating an already dire state of affairs,” he continued, citing how, he mentioned, Hamas used Telegram to warn civilians in Ashkelon to depart the realm forward of missile strikes. “Would shutting down their channel assist save lives — or would it not endanger extra lives?” he requested in his put up at present.

Durov’s feedback come at a time when Telegram has most definitely been in the course of how info has been getting out to the remainder of the world, however that has not been restricted to Telegram channels. Within the preliminary hours and days of the lethal terrorist assaults, Hamas and other people affiliated with it posted quite a lot of graphic and really unedited movies of their acts on Telegram, and the app shortly grew to become a much-cited reference level by mainstream media and lots of people posting and sharing information on different social channels, typically linking on to Telegram posts, or capturing and resharing the content material inside them. Telegram’s function in that info dissemination has itself come under attack.

A cynical take is perhaps that Telegram is benefiting from the state of affairs, by choosing up extra site visitors from it. Durov famous, two days after the assault, that “a whole bunch of 1000’s” of recent customers had been signing up for the app from Israel and the Palestinian Territories, noting that Telegram was including assist for Hebrew in its UI.

“Everybody affected ought to have dependable entry to information and personal communication in these dire instances,” he mentioned on the time.

Durov’s phrases and actions mustn’t come as an excessive amount of of a shock: They’re according to the corporate’s earlier strategy to delicate content material.

A part of Durov’s protection of Telegram has at all times been to make a distinction between it and social media apps.

“In contrast to different apps that algorithmically promote stunning content material to unsuspecting individuals, on Telegram, customers obtain solely the content material to which they particularly subscribed,” he wrote. “As such, it’s unlikely that Telegram channels can be utilized to considerably amplify propaganda. As an alternative, they function a singular supply of first-hand info for researchers, journalists, and fact-checkers.”

The app has beforehand taken a lightweight contact in relation to how it’s utilized by violent people or teams, courting numerous controversy within the course of. It has change into, for instance, a go-to place for communication across the conflict in Ukraine, but it surely has additionally change into a hotbed for misinformation, as this piece particulars. Resistance teams in Myanmar could also be utilizing it, however so are militants supporting the present regime, who’re utilizing it to focus on people, as this investigation by CNN confirmed. And its controversial place as a go-to platform for acknowledged terrorist teams was well-known. (Hamas is acknowledged by many international locations, together with the U.S., U.Ok. and Israel, as a terrorist group.)

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