Telegram has become very popular among users concerned with their privacy. It is also very popular among people who are pro-democracy activists in some parts of the world. For example, during the recent Myanmar Spring Revolution against the military coup, anti-coup protesters are increasingly using Telegram as a major means of communication. One problem with using those secured messaging services is that authorities could still trace you using your phone number in your profile if it is not hidden. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to hide your phone number in your Telegram profile.
Telegram Privacy and Security Settings
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I have written an article about recommended Telegram settings to improve your privacy and security. One of the less-known features of this secured messaging app is the ability to hide your phone number and instead use an alias. This is one of the main reasons Myanmar protesters choose Telegram over Signal. Instead of giving your phone number to strangers, you can simply share your alias. Other people could search for you and contact you using this alias. This way you can reduce your chance of being identified through your phone number.
Hide phone number in Telegram settings
Telegram by default does not hide the phone number. It also does not create a username (alias). You have to hide your phone number under settings.
1. First, click Setting and then Privacy and Security.
Privacy and security settings control whether to show your phone number to other people on telegram, how people can find you, who can contact you, security settings about forwarded messages and groups, setting up two-step verification, and setting up a passcode and touch ID.
2. Choose Phone Number under Security and Privacy settings page
3. Change the Phone Number Setting in Telegram as below
- Set “Who can see my phone number” to either Nobody or My Contacts. This will hide your phone number from those who are not on your contact list or from everybody.
- Set “Who can find me by my number” to My Contacts. By setting to My Contacts, only those who are in your contact list will be able to find you by searching you using your phone number. The reason I recommend you to set it to My Contacts is that by disabling it, other people will not be able to link your phone number to your user name.
Set your @username in Telegram after hiding your phone number
After disabling other people to see your number or add you to their contact list by searching your phone number, you need a way to let your trusted friends know how to find you on Telegram. You can do this by creating a username and share your user name with your close friends.
Usernames in Telegram have a similar structure to Twitter. They have @ in front of your user name, such as @yourname. Choose Setting and click Edit at the top right of your setting screen. Choose a username in the username field. This username is unique. Press DONE when finished. From now on, your contacts will only see your user name instead of your phone number.