Google Forces Telegram to Block Terror Group’s Channels
On Tuesday, Telegram announced it had blocked all Hamas-ran channels in the platform’s Android version. Interestingly, the move was not deliberate but rather influenced by Google. The tech company had threatened to remove Telegram from the Play Store if it failed to block the channels of the terror group.
Since the start of the war, Hamas has used Telegram to spread propaganda. Experts who spoke to media outlet New York Times on Monday said the criminal group preferred Telegram over any other communication platform due to its chilled content censorship.
“We don’t Intend to Block Hamas Channels,” Telegram CEO Says
Over the weekend, Telegram boss Pavel Durov told reporters that his platform was not considering blocking Hamas’ channels, which have garnered three times the followers they had before the group invaded Israel. Durov argued that the channels have been used to share important information, pointing to Monday’s message from Hamas that warned people in Ashkelon to relocate ahead of the terror group’s planned missile attack.
However, it turned out that the message was only meant to instill anxiety and fear among Israelis.
Meanwhile, Durov claimed that it was impossible for Hamas to use Telegram to spread propaganda because the platform does not expose users to content based on an algorithmic feed. Instead, they have to join a channel to access the content.
Durov Claim Dismissed
However, experts were quick to dismiss the Telegram CEO’s claim, arguing that he ignored the fact that followers of the Hamas channels would take the information and share it on other platforms or channels.
Despite Durov’s arguments, Telegram has made a U-Turn and removed the Hamas channels on the platform’s Android app, as mentioned. One of the two channels had over 760,000 followers, while the other one boasted 171,000 followers. Now, when followers of these channels attempt to access them using their Android phones, Telegram displays this message: “The channel you are following is not accessible due to Google Play Store’s guidelines.” Telegram users using desktop and iOS Telegram apps can still access the Hamas channels.
While Hamas channels have not been blocked completely, it is still a good move that will likely limit the spread of the terror group’s messages.