Telegram now has the largest user base in India as it surpasses one billion downloads across the world as per a report by Sensor Tower. Telegram competes against popular platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook in India but there’s some difference. Both Facebook and WhatsApp have been considered as significant social media intermediaries in India and both the platforms are required to follow the new IT rules in India– Information Technology (IntermediaryGuidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
In India, any social media platform with more than 5 million registered users is considered as significant and is required to follow the new IT rules. Having said that, for Telegram, the government hasn’t expressed much concern about the platform until now as it wasn’t considered as significant. But now with around 22% user base of more than a billion registered users, Telegram is no longer a small fry in India.
As per a report by TechCrunch, Telegram has reached an install base of 214.7 million users in the first half of 2021. This is a huge growth compared to the 133 million installs last year. The major push to download Telegram has been due to the controversial privacy policies of WhatsApp. While both WhatsApp and Facebook are now required to follow the new IT rules of India, it would be interesting to see how the government reacts to Telegram’s end-to-end encryption.
The Indian government wants WhatsApp to introduce traceability in chats secured by end-to-end encryption. This is because it wants to identify the source of a particular message to fight fake fake news, rumours and hate messages. WhatsApp believes that introducing traceability will undermine privacy and it could be used by people in power to suppress dissent. While WhatsApp has been fighting against introducing traceability in court, there is no information as to how Telegram would handle India’s new IT rules as it has now become a significant social media intermediary.