This article will self-destruct in less than 500 words


One of the alternatives to the WhatsApp messaging app is Telegram. It has 100 million monthly active users, which sounds like a lot, but let’s look at how many people use WhatsApp.

A quick Google search shows that WhatsApp had 500 million monthly active users in 2014. In the intervening three years, it’s probably picked up another 100 million.

It can’t hurt that WhatsApp is part of Facebook, with its estimated 10 billion users.

Be that as it may, Telegram’s 100 million users is a respectable number, and one of the reasons why it probably managed to become so popular is that it’s said to be more secure, or more private.

And as if to cement that reputation, Telegram 4.2 has introduced messages that self-destruct.

Telegram was one of the first messaging apps to introduce end-to-end encryption. And it also offered something called “Secret Chats”.

Telegram says its secret chats also “support self-destructing messages and don’t allow forwarding”.

Moreover, secret chats are not part of the Telegram cloud and can only be accessed on their devices of origin, says Telegram.

According to a recent company blog, the new version of Telegram enables users to “set a self-destruct timer for any photos and videos you share in private chats”.

The blog post continues: “If you set a timer, the countdown starts the moment your recipient opens the photo or video you sent. After the time runs out, the photo/video will disappear forever, just like in Secret Chats.

“If the recipient tries to make a screenshot of your disappearing media, you’ll get a notification immediately.”

The other new feature is more about the infrastructure. Telegram says it is now using a content delivery network to speed up its storage, download and upload functions.

CDNs are basically networks of servers located around the world which hold the same information so that users’ data is routed through their nearest server, wherever they are.

As Telegram says: “CDNs are third-party caching nodes that we’ll use to cache publicly available videos and photos posted in massive channels (say, with 100,000+ subscribers) for users in remote locations where Telegram is popular.

“This will increase download speeds for tens of millions of users as CDN caching allows data to travel shorter distances and helps avoid bottlenecks that exist between regions.”

It’s not clear if Telegram is using a separate company to provide its CDN or whether it has built its own. It might want to keep it secret for security reasons.

But some of most well-known CDNs are Akamai, Level 3, Cloudflare, AWS, Verizon, Tata Communications, and CDNsun.