10 Telegram privacy features that you should be using

Telegram is a very popular messaging app right now and has managed to become the most downloaded non-gaming app for January 2021, according to Sensor Tower. The app saw 63 million downloads in January 2021, and nearly 24 per cent came from India. The WhatsApp alternative is feature-packed to the brim and founder Pavel Durov has been vocal multiple times about the app’s focus on user privacy.

Telegram offers various features and tools and some of them are solely focused on making Telegram users feel more secure and in control of the app’s privacy. Here are 10 Telegram privacy features you need to check out right now.

Lock Chats

Telegram allows you to lock your chats. This lock can be bypassed with a quick PIN entry or even via your phone’s fingerprint sensor. The feature is ideal in case your phone’s stock user interface doesn’t offer App Locking. To enable chat locking, you can head over to the Settings/ Privacy and Security/ Passcode Lock.

Secret Chats

Telegram’s default chats are backed up by the platform’s secure cloud. This allows you to use the same account on multiple devices, including your laptop. However, these chats are not end-to-end encrypted, since Telegram needs access to your chats to make them available on other devices where you have logged in.

Telegram, however, lets you use secret chats with contacts alongside their regular chats. The Secret Chat window for that contact is end-to-end encrypted, and no third-party except the sender and the receiver has access to this chat, not even Telegram. This makes them the most secure way to communicate via the app. However, you will lose handy features like multi-device support on Secret Chats.

Self-destructing Media

Self-destructing messages isn’t new to Telegram, but the feature was earlier accessible only via the app’s Secret Chats. Now, after a recent update, Telegram lets you send self-destructing messages in regular chats as well.

To send something with a timer, head over to the particular chat and open up your gallery and tap on a preview to select an image or video. Look for the timer icon shaped like a stopwatch in the four options below the media (Next to crop, edit, etc). Here you can set a timer after which the media will expire.

Telegram, Telegram privacy, Telegram features, Telegram now allows self-destructing media messages in normal chats as well as secret chats. (Express Photo)

Two-Step Verification

A lot of apps have now begun making two-step verification or two-factor authorisation available for additional privacy and so does Telegram. Once enabled, the feature requires to enter a password every time you login to Telegram from a new or old device. The password is needed in addition to the OTP or one time password, which appears on when you set up the account on a new device. This protects your account from identity theft should someone find out your password as they will still need the password to login. To enable this, head over to Settings/ Privacy and Security / Two-Step Verification.

Proxy Servers

Telegram also supports proxy servers. This lets users hide their IP address by connecting to a custom proxy server. This works similar to how a VPN connection, but is a feature you should be using only if you know what you’re doing. While a proxy is not as secure as a VPN connection, it has the advantage of not taking a hit on your internet speed. To set up a proxy server, users can navigate to Settings/ Data and Storage/ Proxy Settings.

Delete Sender’s Messages

Telegram allows users to delete not just their own messages, but also those sent by others in private one-on-one chats. While this feature is a little shady and can be counterproductive, it is a boon for those wanting absolute privacy in their chats. It can also be ideal if one party’s device is stolen and you want to clear any kind of confidential messages from the chat.

To delete the Sender’s messages, just long-press on any chat message and hit the delete icon on top, similar to how you would delete your own messages. Unlike WhatsApp, there is no time limit for deleting messages and you can navigate to older messages and delete them too.

Control who can (and can’t) add you to groups

Telegram lets you fine-tune and set up permissions to add your account to groups. This prevents random strangers and annoying contacts from adding you to groups without your permission. You can set this up by heading over to Settings/ Privacy and Security/ Groups.

Here you can simply set the dropdown to My contacts so that no strangers can add you in groups. Further, you can add more exceptions in the options below so that particular contacts are blacklisted/whitelisted to add you.

Telegram, Telegram privacy, Telegram features, Telegram lets you control who can add you to groups. (Express Photo)

Clear payment and shipping info

Telegram bots by Telegram accounts run by businesses allow you to pay via the app itself. However, these residuals can remain in place long after your transaction is done and the product is received. If you want to get rid of these bits, you can navigate to Settings/ Privacy and Security/ Clear Payment and Shipping Info. The one-step process clears all your payment and shipping data across all chats in one go.

View and disable active Telegram sessions

Telegram allows multi-device support, which means you can have the same Telegram account open in various devices at the same time. Over time, you may forget that you are logged in to some phone/laptop and that can be misused. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can view all devices where your Telegram account is logged in. To do this, go to Settings/ Privacy and Security/ Active sessions.

If you see any session that is still logged in that you want to be ended, simply click on that session and hit ‘Terminate’ to end it.

‘Delete my account’ timer

Telegram allows you to delete your account if you do not use it actively for an extended period of time. Users have a choice to set the threshold time-period before their account gets permanently deleted.  To set this up, navigate to Settings/ Privacy and Storage/ Delete my account. You can choose between 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.

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