The update to Telegram, planned for release over the next few days, will allow protesters to prevent mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities from discovering their identities in the app’s large group chats.
Hong Kong’s Security Bureau told Reuters it has “been acting responsibly to deal with the current difficult time with a view to restoring the public order”. It declined to comment about whether it had tried to identify protesters by using the Telegram app.
China’s Foreign Ministry, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside of business hours.
Thousands of Hong Kong protesters take their cues from more than 100 groups on Telegram, according to protest organizers and supporters. Protesters use encrypted apps like Telegram to mobilize swiftly through multiple group chats, with less risk of police infiltration, an in-depth report published by Reuters earlier this month said.
The groups are used to post everything from news on upcoming protests to tips on dousing tear gas canisters fired by the police to the identities of suspected undercover police and the access codes to buildings in Hong Kong where protesters can hide.
Some protesters express concern that authorities could use the movement’s reliance on Telegram to monitor and arrest organizers. Telegram chat groups used to organize public protests are often accessible to anyone and participants use pseudonyms.
Telegram allows users to search for other users by uploading phone numbers. This function allows a new user to quickly learn whether those in a phone’s contact book are already using the app, the group said.
Some protesters say they believe Chinese or Hong Kong security officials have exploited the function by uploading large quantities of phone numbers. Reuters was unable to determine if this has occurred.
The app automatically matches phone numbers with the user names in the group. Authorities then only need to request the owners of the phone numbers from the local telecom service in order to learn the users’ true identities.
The differences with other messaging platforms are various: on Telegram you have the possibility to create groups of up to 200,000 members, in which everyone can send and receive text, audio or video messages. Another feature is that of creating channels, either public or private, in which – anyone who is an administrator – can send one-way messages to its members.
You can also cancel sending or edit messages after they have been sent. Unlike WhatsApp, there is no time limit to cancel sending a message on Telegram. The recipient of the message will not receive any notification if you cancel a sent message.
Users can send video files up to 1.5GB in size, which has made Telegram extremely popular for users who want to share movies with their friends. Users can even stream the video before the download is over.
Finally, since June 2015, Telegram has introduced the possibility of creating bots, automated programs that are able to perform tasks of any kind. A bot on Telegram works like a real company pageon this platform, so it is essential to immediately understand its mechanisms.
In fact, many companies are already using this feature in order to, for example, communicate with their customers, automate responses to their support requests, provide them with product catalogs, offer promotions or update them on the latest news.
- Chat Folders
Chat Folders is one of the best Telegram tricks that you should know and utilize to your maximum advantage. We follow so many channels and groups on Telegram of different kinds, not to mention the individual chats that go into the mix. Having all these chats in one panel makes things much harder to declutter and make sense of. So to solve this issue, Telegram has brought something called “Chat Folders”. This allows you to categorize your chats into different labels and Telegram sort things out for you. As a result, Telegram gets super clean and much easier to manage. I love it!
So, if you want to create different chat folders on Telegram for your use case then follow along. Open the hamburger menu and move to Settings -> Folders. Here, tap on “Create New Folder” and give a name like personal, work, fun, unread, etc. After that, add the chats that you would like to appear in this folder. Similarly, you can add the kinds of chats that you don’t want to be grouped under this folder. This way Telegram will learn your preferences. Now, the main screen will move to a tabbed UI making it easier to use and manage Telegram. How awesome is that?
2. Add Nearby People and Group
Last year, Telegram brought a unique feature that allows you to discover Telegram users and groups based on your location. This comes really handy when you want to add someone to your Telegram without sharing your mobile number. Also, if you are going to conferences, campuses or festivals, you can find several groups related to the place and event just like that. To add nearby people, open the Telegram menu and go to “Contacts”. Here, tap on “Add People Nearby” and there you have it. Previously, it was required to keep the screen open for this feature to work. But now users can turn on the “Make Me Visible” option in the People Nearby window so nearby users can see their profile without needing to have the window open.
3. Edit Sent Messages
Does it ever happen that you send a message, and within a few seconds you find out a glaring typo? Well, there is an edit button to save you on Telegram, but not so much on Twitter. All you have to do is select the message and tap on the “Edit (pen)” icon at the top and you can easily edit the message. However, it will show you an “Edited” label after you have made the changes. Also, there are no time-bound restrictions for editing messages on Telegram. You can only edit messages up to 48 hours of sending them (forever if the messages are posted in your “Saved Messages” chat).
4. Send Silent Messages
There are times when we know our close ones studying, sleeping, or attending meetings, but we want to send some messages without disturbing them. Well, there is a feature called Silent Messages on Telegram. Basically, you can send messages and it will not make any sound or vibration even if the recipient has not turned on DND. That’s great, right? So to use this feature, type out your message and then tap and hold the “send” button. Here, choose “Send without sound” and you are done.
5. Schedule Messages
For power users, scheduling is a great way to achieve many tasks at a given time. We already use email scheduling a lot, but it’s awesome to see Telegram bringing this feature for messages as well. As you saw above, you can schedule a message just by pressing and holding the “send” button. Here, choose “Schedule message” and pick the date and time. The message will be sent at your preferred time.