The end-to-end encrypted messenger Telegram will start monetizing its own app in 2021 to cover the costs incurred. This means that users of the app will see advertisements starting in 2021. There will also be pay features. Here’s what the plans look like.
Telegram has 500 million users
There will be advertising in the Telegram app from 2021. This was announced by the eccentric founder Pavel Durov on his own Telegram channel shortly before Christmas 2020.
This is Durov’s response to the steadily increasing number of users. Within the year, the messenger with end-to-end encryption, which is considered secure, has grown to almost 500 million users due to the Corona crisis.
As the user base grows, so do the costs of servers and traffic, according to Durov. “A project of our size needs at least a couple of $100 million a year to keep running,” he said.
Telegram should not suffer the fate of WhatsApp
Until now, Pavel Durov, who likes to be called a mixture of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, has paid for the costs incurred together with his brother Nikolai Durov. As of now, that’s over.
According to Durov, there are two options for companies like Telegram: Sell or monetize.
And since “the world needs Telegram to be an independent place where users respect each other and where high standards apply at the same time,” a sale is not an option for Durov. As an example, he cites WhatsApp, which is now firmly integrated into Facebook and has strayed from the actual goals of its founders.
Telegram app with advertising from 2021
For this reason, the Telegram app will be monetized from 2021. On the one hand, this will be done through advertising in the huge one-to-many channels used by conspiracy theorists like Michael Wender, but also criminals and radical groups.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov promises that private conversations and group chats will remain ad-free. He considers playing ads there a “bad idea.” Whether Durov will keep his promise in the long run, however, is questionable.
After all, WhatsApp and Co. had also originally guaranteed their users freedom from advertising for life. There is a question mark behind Pavel Durov’s “for free, forever” as quite justified.
Telegram channel operators are to profit
However, not only the messenger itself should profit from the monetization of the Telegram app, but also the large channel operators. The plan therefore provides for the channel owners to participate proportionately in the success, for example.
Telegram is also thinking about paid stickers and other gimmicks that can refinance large channels.
Telegram app as a gathering place for radicals and conspiracy theorists
Overall, Telegram founder Pavel Durov speaks extremely euphorically about the published plans and the future of the messenger in his post. However, he also skillfully ignores the justified criticism that has been leveled at Telegram for months.
The private chat channels and the anonymity of the individual users mean that conspiracy theorists, radicals and dissidents can easily provide millions of people with their content without having to fear serious consequences.
It is true that democracy is characterized precisely by the fact that it protects freedom of expression. However, especially on Telegram, a lot of content is shared that goes beyond the limits of free speech.
In order to survive in the long term, the Telegram founders must therefore find a way to protect privacy without violating applicable law. The next few months will show whether they succeed.