TL;DR: “An old message you already forgot about can be taken out of context and used against you decades later. A hasty text you sent to a girlfriend in school can come haunt you in 2030 when you decide to run for mayor,” Telegram founder Pavel Durov posted to his personal channel, on his way to reveal new privacy-related features for users of the popular messaging platform. According to the company, they’ve added a broader Unsend option and Anonymous Forwarding.
Telegram Adds Unsend, Anonymous Forwarding
“It’s been 23 years since I first used a private messaging service, and 16 years since I first built my own. The number of electronic private conversations I’ve had over those years is enormous. I am certain this is also the case for you,” Durov began in his candid letter to users.
He detailed how millions of messages over time have been generated by each person, alone, who uses such services. “Most of those communication logs are stored somewhere in other people’s inboxes, outside of our reach. Relationships start and end, but messaging history with ex-friends and ex-colleagues remains available forever,” Durov reminded readers. He believes that kind of volume will only increase, and such information could be something of a personal attack vector few have seriously considered.
“We have to admit,” he continued, “despite all of our progress in encryption and privacy, we have very little actual control of our data. We can’t go back in time and erase things for other people.” That was until 24 March 2019, at least as far as Telegram is concerned. The company is now allowing “every user to delete any message in a private conversation from both sides. It doesn’t matter who sent the message and when – you have complete control over it. You can even wipe out the whole conversation from both sides if you want to. No trace will be left on any side,” Durov detailed.
For the First Time in 23 Years of Private Messaging, I Somehow Feel Truly Free and in Control
Acknowledging how such a feature might create yet more unforeseen problems, “We thought carefully through those issues, but we think the benefit of having control over your digital footprint is more important,” he insisted. Telegram has had an Unsend feature for at least two years, but previously it was “only for messages sent by you and only for 48 hours. Now you can ‘unsend’ messages you have received as well, and there is no time limit. You can also delete any private chat entirely from both your and the other person’s device with just two taps,” the company explained.
Its new Anonymous Forwarding feature restricts “who can forward your messages,” the company claimed. “When this setting is enabled, your forwarded messages will no longer lead back to your account — they’ll just display an unclickable name in the ‘from’ field. This way people you chat with will have no verifiable proof you ever sent them anything,” and can be activated by way of Privacy and Security settings, which also allow for limiting who can view profile pictures.
“Looking through my Telegram inbox now,” Durov ended his post, “there’s not much I would want to delete for both sides. And yet, for the first time in 23 years of private messaging, I feel truly free and in control.”
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