Telegram is one of the most popular messaging platforms around today and for good reason. With deep end-to-end encryption and a message self-destruction feature, it's the go-to chat solution for privacy-minded individuals.
However, deep privacy features do come with the potential for abuse. In February, we reported the app was pulled from the iOS App Store after Apple discovered it was being used to distribute child pornography. It was later reinstated after Telegram dealt with the issue.
Now, though, it seems Telegram is being used to distribute illegal content yet again. Using the app's "Global Search" feature, users can find channels openly offering pirated content, including movies, music and even Netflix shows, according to The Outline.
...some Telegram channels offer stolen login credentials for popular media streaming websites...
If that wasn't bad enough, some Telegram channels offer stolen login credentials for popular media streaming websites to "tens of thousands" of group members each day. These credentials reportedly include logins for sites like Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Sling and Hulu.
The ability for channel owners to share this sort of information is primarily a result of Telegram's lax content enforcement policies. In order to keep their platform as free and open as possible, channels are only taken down if they contain "public calls for violence," porn, or copyright-infringing content, according to company CEO and Founder Pavel Durov:
FYI. Thousands of opposition channels are thriving on Telegram, and we don't care what local politicians have to say about it. We enforce rules only if a particular public channel violates our very simple ToS – no public calls for violence, no porn, no copyright infringement.— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 30, 2017
This emphasis on freedom and open discussion is certainly admirable -- particularly in the modern age -- but it's clear there are a few risks with the platform's approach. Whether or not Telegram will be able to balance rule enforcement with user freedom in the future remains to be seen.