Telegram and the Freedom of Speech

Telegram and the Freedom of Speech

Pavel Durov

You already know Telegram has your back when it comes to privacy. Another human right we feel passionately about is the freedom of speech. In some countries Telegram is the only popular platform for independent sources of information. Take Iran for example, where the BBC is blocked, but its @bbcpersian channel has been active for years and attracted almost a million followers. There are thousands of large Telegram channels that are critical of their governments.

Telegram has never yielded to pressure from officials who wanted us to perform political censorship. Freedom of speech is one of the values we’ve been defending for the last 11 years, first in Russia, and then globally.

Of course, there are rules that admins of Telegram channels should respect, for example, Telegram ToS prohibit publicly promoting violence in any form. This is why this October alone we have blocked over 8,500 channels related to terrorism (more stats in @isiswatch).

Another recent example of a line one shouldn’t cross is an Iranian channel ('showman1') that started to urge its members to throw stones into the windows of public buildings and vehicles (schools, temples, buses) and film it. We got in touch with the channel admins and asked them to stop this vandalism contest; not only did they ignore us, but launched another creepy competition urging their 100K+ users to burn mosques by throwing Molotov cocktails into them and film it. As a result, we were left with no other option but to block their channel.

For us, the line is pretty straightforward. Criticizing local authorities, challenging the status quo and engaging in political debate are OK. Meanwhile, promoting violence and calling for actions that can harm innocent people are not OK. This is a rule of thumb we’re always applying when moderating public channels.

My older posts are available in my channel