WhatsApp Claims Telegram Is Russian Spyware. And Telegram Reacts

Feb 17, 2023
Updated • Feb 17, 2023

WhatsApp Claims Telegram Is Russian Spyware. And Telegram Reacts

Will Cathcart, CEO of WhatsApp, has ignited a debate over the encryption and security of Telegram. Will believes that Telegram is not safe and even claims that it serves as spyware for the Russians.

In recent years, the rivalry between the two messaging platforms has benefited users and the platforms. While security and privacy have been a source of debate, never have any of the platforms made such serious allegations in the past.

WhatsApp Claims Telegram Is Russian Spyware. And Telegram Reacts

What Sparked the Debate?

Will was referring to an article in the Wired that claims that the Kremlin controlled Telegram. Will also claimed that Telegram does not provide end-to-end encryption for individual and group chats. He also claims that Telegram’s E2EE (end-to-end encryption) protocols cannot be verified independently. 

Collaboration With the Russian Government?

Will also claimed that Telegram’s API can be used for mass surveillance. He even asked users to stop using Telegram and said that it was friendly advice from him. 

Telegram Responds

Dubai-based Telegram has responded to WhatsApp’s allegations. Remi Vaughn, the spokesperson for Telegram, has said that the article from Wired and the claims from Will Cathcart contain errors. Remi also claimed that the editorial team ignored all responses from Telegram. 

As per Remi, there were nine errors in Wired’s article. Responding to the security allegation by Will, Remi said that Telegram uses MTProto 2.0 protocol, and this is verified by an independent team from the University of Udine. Remi also suggested that users should check the authentication key fingerprints through an external safe channel to ensure their chats are private.

WhatsApp | Telegram | Russian Spyware | Telegrams Reaction


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  1. Mystique said on February 18, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    I recall reading an article where Telegram disclosed a users details following a piracy claim (court order). I have always taken a dim view of these applications that require your phone number. Absurd to say the least. I can’t say for sure what details were shared only that there were some details and it was likely kept at discretion. What is abundantly clear is that phone numbers remain a point of reference back towards the end user.

    I have been trying out Teleguard by swisscows for a few months and recent updates has improved stability significantly. You do not need a phone number for this app and it supports windows, android and iOS.
    I am can’t say for sure it is better than anything else out there but for the fact that it does not require a phone number and is not hosted in either mentioned companies above (the five eyes or Russia) might also mean something to people. I’m sure there are many others out there but just something I have been trying out. It was extremely frustrating prior to this update but so far so good.

  2. bbbzzz said on February 18, 2023 at 11:09 am

    MTProto… Again Telegram and their pink glasses. This protocol (mtproto)is responsible for encryption in transit like TLS, but is not responsible for encrypting messages. Messages remain as cleartext on the server. The Telegram application is like a window with which you open access to all messages. If you can – anyone else can. Therefore, it is not secure. Only E2E encryption ensures secure and private communication, because you as the user and the recipient are the only owners of the messages, which are stored only on your devices. You want to connect two worlds – use Signal. If you don’t care about privacy – use Whatsapp. If you don’t care about anything then Telegram will be ok.

  3. Tibu said on February 18, 2023 at 7:58 am

    Use Matrix and everything is solved

    1. James Kirk said on February 25, 2023 at 5:49 am

      Nah, I prefer moving everyone to a channel on IRC and chatting there.

  4. WhateverItIs said on February 18, 2023 at 6:57 am

    Both are spyware so who cares!

  5. Jek Porkins said on February 17, 2023 at 10:55 pm

    WhatsApp is American spyware, what’s the difference? Seems the same to me.

  6. StudentLoanDebt said on February 17, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    Choose a poison, then use it. American or Russian spyware? WhatsApp’s features and capabilities will never come close to those of Telegram. Telegram has a lot more features available. I rather use Telegram in the end.

  7. yanta said on February 17, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    He’s right, telegram is not safe, but then neither is whatsapp – which is even less safe. As to being Russion spyware, pfft.

  8. John G. said on February 17, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    The worst about Whatsapp is the weird and ridiculous “message” of “this message has been deleted” after you delete an unwanted or mistaken message. Oh, come on, you Meta guys, please listen carefully to me: if someone wants to erase a message just do as Telegram do, that’s just CLEAR the entire message with leaving no trace at all. This is what the Telegram app does with no problem at all. I think that Apple also allows to clear a message with no trace of it behind. Anyway, I wonder if Whatsapp maintain the deleted messages somewhere in the cloud for unknown purposes. Thanks for the article by the way.

  9. John G. said on February 17, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    In these days Russia, China and several other countries should be seen with very careful eyes. All kind of caution is few, because the risks ate very high.

  10. Kalmly said on February 17, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Most people prefer Chinese spyware.

  11. Anonymous said on February 17, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    Oh this is hilarious – Telegram is banned in Russia:


    Whereas WhatsApp is owned my Meta (Facebook), Cambridge Analytica anyone?

  12. piomiq said on February 17, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Wait a minute. Was is politic of Facebook/Meta about privacy of users this communicator? As we know they changed some time ago agreement which cased all data might be used by Facebook. In result several users of WA leaved this communicator and went to competition. I think the most of them selected Telegram.
    So maybe now again their users leaving and they want to stop this by this dirty method.
    As far as I know Telegram doesn’t cooperate with Russian Goverment. Some time ago well known was case when Russian Goverment wants to get encrypting keys, and because Telegram doesn’t have them then sent them normal (steel) keys.

  13. Service Pack said on February 17, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    I would use Telegram rather than WhatsApp

    Meta/Facebook already has much of my data… I don’t want it to access my phonebook contacts…

    1. Anonymous said on February 18, 2023 at 2:57 am

      Telegram is actually worse than Whatsapp. If you signed up, everyone who has your number will be notified.

    2. boris said on February 17, 2023 at 1:44 pm

      If you do not live in Russia, it is fine. Otherwise, you are asking for trouble.

      1. Name said on February 17, 2023 at 2:49 pm

        Telegram has offices in the western countries too and they need to comply with authorities.

        I don’t know why people think that Telegram is safer than Discord. Any time you use unencrypted comms you give data to 3rd parties.

  14. Service Pack said on February 17, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    The title is part of the article [shows as the first line]

    Great editing…

    1. jazzy said on February 17, 2023 at 8:57 pm

      pretty obvious all these apps and your phone are nothing but tracking devices and information surveillance. choose your poison

  15. basingstoke said on February 17, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    When the CEO of a rival company says stuff like this, it is obvious why, this is like school-yard tactics – not even worth batting an eye about.

    I’ve no doubt Facebook/Whatsapp has collaborated with US government, perhaps even others – so glass houses?

    1. boris said on February 17, 2023 at 1:35 pm

      “On 18 June 2020 Roskomnadzor lifted its ban on Telegram after it agrees to help with extremism investigations.” quote from Wikipedia.

      But we all know that Russian Government considers extremists anybody who has different political views, LGBT members and people unhappy with war in Ukraine.

      1. basingstoke said on February 17, 2023 at 3:42 pm

        Yeah sorry boris, not a valid point – I have no doubt instagram, twitter, facebook, and all the rest of them, readily comply with governments of US, UK, Australia, Canada, etc – there’s nothing that makes the governments of these countries better or more virtuous than, say, the government of Russia.

        In fact, I can get in trouble with the police in the United Kingdom just by publicly stating on social media that I don’t think women can have male genetalia, or by quoting rap lyrics whilst not being african american, so go ahead, try tell me that the Russian government is the tyrannical one here.

        Again, if western social media bend over for western governments, they are just as compromised as telegram is (and considering the point i’ve just made, perhaps worse).

    2. Andy Prough said on February 17, 2023 at 1:25 pm

      I agree, the CEO of whatsapp should certainly be familiar with spyware! My advice: don’t trust any of them.

  16. Anonymous said on February 17, 2023 at 12:58 pm

    The links to telegram and whatsapp point to softonic?

    1. Tom Hawack said on February 17, 2023 at 3:47 pm

      Indeed. And within several Ghacks articles.
      Makes me lose time, but gain privacy, given I use a blocklist which prevents connections to Softonic servers [https://dblw.oisd.nl/basic/]
      Either use a Web search engine or directly search on Wikipedia [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegram_(software)]
      Gosh, if only Ghacks had been sold to another company than Softonic …

      1. Tom Hawack said on February 17, 2023 at 4:00 pm

        Softonic servers blocked with
        and more even with

        When a domain is included in more than one blocklist, when moreover this/these blocklist(s) aren’t provided by a whatever eccentric/exotic Website, then you know you’re facing bad stuff, for sure.

      2. Andy Prough said on February 17, 2023 at 4:54 pm

        @Tom – >”When a domain is included in more than one blocklist, when moreover this/these blocklist(s) aren’t provided by a whatever eccentric/exotic Website, then you know you’re facing bad stuff, for sure.”

        There are blocklists on github for everything. It’s been over three years since the purchase of Ghacks, you should consider dropping your one-man crusade against Softonic one of these days. If they are paying Martin’s salary and letting him focus on writing and he’s happy with the arrangement, then they are ok by me.

      3. Tom Hawack said on February 17, 2023 at 6:07 pm

        @Andy Prough, what crusade? I never mention Softonic and have always emphasized on differentiating articles from their authors and Ghacks from its mother-company. But when a company is blacklisted by several serious sources and has the nerve to impose to its authors to link to them within articles then I consider it’s a pain which would be easily avoided provided Softonic calmed down a bit. And I’ll continue to do so as long as those links appear,

        > “There are blocklists on github for everything.”

        This is why I mentioned non eccentric/exotic sources. Those I mentioned, which block Softonic servers are included in a given list concatenating them with a few others :


        Offered by DNSCrypt-proxy which has nothing to prove in terms of seriousness.
        Think about it.

      4. John G. said on February 17, 2023 at 7:38 pm

        Ghacks writers are working here to earn some money to live their lifes in a properly way. If ads and Softonic links provide the money I will make no complain at all. Just my humble opinion, no offense.

    2. Anonymous said on February 17, 2023 at 3:19 pm

      not the first time seeing it on this website… very disappointing.

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