Telegram is no stranger to criticism. Created by Russian tech entrepreneur Pavel Durov to counter the censorship and propaganda of authoritarian regimes, it has faced bans, legal action, and political scandal.
Telegram’s popularity has grown rapidly in the past two years in correlation with more concerted efforts to remove misinformation on other social media platforms and with a change in WhatsApp’s privacy rules. As of July 2021, Telegram had 550 million active users worldwide – more than the individual user bases of Twitter, Snapchat or Discord. It is the fifth most-popular messaging app after Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger, and WeChat and QQ, which dominate the Chinese market.