There has been rising concern over privacy issues with popular messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp recently. Because of privacy concerns, more and more people are starting to use more secured messaging services such as Signal and Telegram. Many rights activists use these secured messaging services especially in Russia, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. For example, during the recent Spring Revolution in Myanmar (Burma), most anti-coup protesters have moved from Facebook messenger to Signal and Telegram. Telegram is by far a more popular app for users who are concerned with their privacy. However, in order to use it more efficiently and securely, you may need to adjust the Telegram privacy settings.
Privacy Settings in Telegram
Below are my recommended privacy and security settings for Telegram. These will give you the best privacy results.
1. First, tap Setting and then tap Privacy and Security.
Here, you’ll change some of the default privacy settings to make Telegram more secure.
2. Below is the Telegram’s Privacy and Security Settings page
3. Passcode and Touch ID in Telegram
Set to ON. Enter the passcode (6 digits) and set an auto-lock period. You’ll need this passcode to unlock the App. While you are here, also adjust how long you want to set the auto-lock period. You may want to enable Unlock with Touch ID. I turn Touch ID to OFF.
4. Two-Step verification
Normally, if you log in to Telegram on a new device, you will receive an SMS message with a login code. To prevent anyone with access to your phone or SIM card from logging in to your account, you can set a second password to your account. I recommend setting the Two-step verification to ON. Set the password, enter a password hint, and the recovery email in case you forget your password. You’ll need this password to log in to a new device in addition to the login code sent via SMS.
5. Phone Number: Hide your phone number in Telegram for privacy
One thing you don’t want when using Telegram is to let everyone see your phone number. By allowing everyone to see your number, in group chats or channels, you risk exposing yourself to several privacy breaches. I would strongly recommend hiding your phone number in your profile. I would also recommend allowing only those in your contacts to find you using your phone number.
Set “Who can see my phone number” to either Nobody or My Contacts. This will prevent anyone from seeing your phone number. If you leave it to default, other people might see your phone number.
Set “Who can find me by my number” to My Contacts. This way, people who are not on your contact list will not be able to find you by searching for your phone number. This way, you could prevent unintended individuals from linking your phone number with your Telegram account.
For sharing your account with your friends, use your user name instead of your phone number. You can find how to hide your telegram number and set the user name in the article.
6. Last seen & Online
This is not a very important privacy setting. My recommendation is to set this setting to either My Contacts or Nobody.
This setting control who could make a voice call to you using either your phone number or your user name. I set both Who can call me and Peer-to-Peer to My Contacts. I don’t want strangers to make calls to me through Telegram, so I set both to my contacts only.
8. Forwarded Messages
When people forward messages from one chat to another person on Telegram, it normally shows the original account that the message originated from. I feel this is an intrusion into my privacy. I set “Who can add a link to my account when forwarding my messages” to Nobody. This way, people who receive forwarded messages originating from my account will not see the link back to my account.
My Privacy Settings for Telegram
The above privacy settings will make Telegram more secured. Below is the privacy settings I use on my Telegram messaging app.
End-to-end encryption and self-destruct messages
Signal messages are end-to-end encrypted by default. No message is stored on the Signal server, so even if you want to disable end-to-end encryption, you cannot. By contrast, Telegram messages are not end-to-end encrypted by default. The encryption is only between the client and the Telegram server. However, you can enable the Telegram secret chat feature in individual chat contact. Click the contact you want to start a secret chat with and click the profile picture at the top right corner of the chat screen. Click the three dots below the profile image and choose “Start Secret Chat”. In secret chat, all messages are end-to-end encrypted, no message was left on the Telegram server and messages are self-destructing from 1 second up to a week. You can also disable the self-destruct timer by clicking the clock symbol in the text entry box and select Disable.
These features will make your Telegram experience more secured. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave in the comment.